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!


27 thoughts on “The Glass Recycling Game

  1. 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.

  2. 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!!

  3. 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.

  4. @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)

  5. 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.

  6. @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).

  7. @jproach:

    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.

  8. 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? ;)

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