The glass recycling game


Operating under the premise that glass bottles were not being recycled as much as plastic or aluminum because there’s no payment for the effort, the team at The Fun Theory set out to add a non-monetary incentive. Here is the fruit of their efforts, the Bottle Bank Arcade. Now recycling glass bottles comes with a bit of a game.

A light flashes above one of the holes in the recycling bin and then rewards points if a bottle is inserted there quickly enough. This Simon says type concept proved incredibly popular in the video embedded after the break. We would image some of the kids in the video made their parents haul them home and back with some empties so they could play.

In one evening, this modified bottle bank was used over 100 times, while a nearby low-tech repository was used just twice. This is a great way to use some tech knowledge, a love of hacking, and desire to spread joy in order to make the neighborhood more fun and help increase the amount of trash that ends up being recycled. This is the same team that put together the musical subway steps, we hope they keep this trend going!


  1. sneakypoo says:

    If anyone wonders what the kid screams at the end it’s: “No one will beat our high-score!”

  2. babble says:

    sigh, great – but wish it wasn’t an advert.

  3. Dan K says:

    What’s with the VW ad at the end of the video?

  4. Dan K says:

    What’s with the volkswagen advertisement at the end of the video? They involved with this?

  5. calebkraft says:

    Ah yes. This was done by vw. The piano staircase from a week ago was vw as well. Though we all groan at the fact that it is some major corporation doing it, I really like the direction they’re going. It seems like someone at VW is at least attempting to connect with us in a manner better than shiny high production quality commercials with windy roads.

  6. calebkraft says:

    Since I didn’t write this article, I guess it is also safe to divulge the fact that I’m an antique VW fanatic. I have 74 bus and I’m going to aquire a 65 bus soon.

  7. S says:

    Don’t you guys read? why are retarded people playing with electricity? this is an viral ad campaign by Volkswagon. It’s cool. Deal with it.

  8. BikeHelmet says:

    Oooh! They’re also sponsoring a contest for similar such ideas.

  9. sansan says:

    LOVE IT!!!! Can we make it happen here? I would love to be part of a team promoting these type of ideas, and even the same idea here in Northern California! I live in San Jose (CA). If interested drop me an email! sqnewton at hotmail dot com . LOVE IT!!

  10. monkeyslayer56 says:

    just goes to show the fun is a good motive :)

  11. BigD145 says:

    How much coal was burned to provide the electricity for this?

  12. Chris H says:

    Anyone a creative idea for our glass containers?

    They have sections for transparent, for green and for brown (misc) glass.

    Not too high tech.

  13. georgewuzheer says:

    Simply genius, this could definitally become big. Just slap on a solar panel and some sign boards for ad space.

  14. Viadd says:

    Great, a game that requires people to hold glass bottles in their hands and slam them into things as fast as they can.

    What could possibly go wrong?

    I prefer the staircase that makes amusing sounds as you roll baby carriages down it.

  15. sneakypoo says:

    @BigD145: Depends on what choice the owners of the outlet made when they signed their contract. You can make an active choice to only buy electricity produced by renewable resources here in Sweden.

    And here’s a random chart I found listing a few different companies and how much of their electricity comes from what source:
    (Kärnkraft=Nuclear, Fossilt=Fossil, Förnybart=Renewable [bunch of text] = Only water and wind)

  16. S says:

    Are you republican by chance? What is life without risk? Preschool. Grow up.

  17. jimmys says:


    No, I believe he’s black so that makes you a racist.

    Go back to your klan meeting, racist. You might find his point is a valid one, if you can get past your bigotry.

  18. jimmys says:

    Ha! to S, rather than Viadd!

  19. Ned Scott says:

    That’s cool and all, but in reality there’s no need to sweat recycling glass. It’s a non-toxic, naturally occurring material. There’s no danger of us running short on material needed to make glass. It actually becomes a burden to recycling centers that struggle to get rid of the glass, since no one wants to buy it back (cheaper to make it from scratch, etc). It’s far more important to focus on things like plastic and aluminum.

  20. blizzarddemon says:

    This is awesome. Make it so an individual can enter in high score data and you got some serious recycling gamers on your hands. : )

  21. jproach says:

    @ned scott: Even if its cheaper to make glass from scratch, it uses more energy and produces more pollution.

    Some countries completely re-use glass bottles, which is even better (~98% in Denmark according to wiki).

  22. Ned Scott says:


    Actually reusing the bottles instead of re-melting them down is the most ideal situation, and would justify a lot of glass recycling. Unfortunately most glass recycling is done by melting the glass back down to make something new, which uses energy.

  23. Roly says:

    Sure it’s VW Greenwash, but I think it’s a really great idea, worth it if only to help make recycling and reuse more cool. It’s an interesting take on the sorting problem, glass into different colours, metal into steel and ali, and “other”.

    Come on fellas, how would you get your Arduino to tell the difference between, say, tin/ali, and brown/green glass? ;)

  24. Sickboy says:

    How long before the bank is filled up with non glass items when people run out of bottles to play with ?

  25. T&P says:

    I would reuse some of the glass bottles I have (they are great containers), but its just the cops would hate it if I was driving down the street with a beer bottle full of tea…

  26. Hackius says:

    Sickboy: that’s not the way society works in Denmark. Nobody would even attempt that.

  27. Randy says:

    I also think the reusing the bottles is more efficient than melting them down Eric. The heat and electricity that it takes to melt glass is VERY expensive.

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