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The new initiative inspired by a German programme hopes to reduce waste and encourage recycling by exchanging plastic bottles for ten cent vouchers.

Market Square Shopping Centre in Monaghan is now home to Ireland’s first reverse vending machine. In return for recycling a plastic bottle 10 cent vouchers will be dispensed that are redeemable at a local supermarket. The vending machine is designed to recognise thousands of barcodes via a database and in turn ensures non-recyclables aren’t mixed up with the plastic bottles.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland, Tidy Towns treasurer Brenda McGuigan said, “The idea behind the machine was to try and tackle plastic bottles being littered around the town, around the roadsides and play parks in the area.”

Inspired by a similar initiative in Germany, the programme is being assisted by Irish companies Quinn Packaging and Shabra Plastic and will last for at least one year.

Brenda told PA when it comes to reducing waste people are “hungry for solutions”, also stating “we have had so many inquiries already this morning from other Tidy Towns organisations around the country about how they can get one in their town so we think it’s going to be a great success.”

The German model has birthed an informal sub-economy and recycling rates are at around 99 per cent for cans and only 1-3 per cent of non-reusable bottles are now not returned.

However it isn’t all positive news with the German model and it remains to be seen if some of the same success can be replicated in Ireland.

Major supermarkets in Germany also switched to non reusable bottles to streamline the return process, resulting in the alarming statistic that since the scheme’s inception the overall percentage of reusable bottles has decreased from 80 to 50 percent.

Despite conflicting reports on its overall impact there is no doubt it is an important step towards actioning alternative methods of waste reduction.

The initiative officially launched on Monday.

Photo Credits: John Veage

Words: Staff Writer 
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