Students get paid to recycle

Students at Sparsholt with (l-r) college vice principal Steve Davies, Steve Stothard of the Reverse Vending Corporation, and project manager Debbie Carless

Students at an agricultural college are being encouraged to recycle more plastic bottles and cans thanks to machines that hand out cash vouchers.

Sparsholt College, in Hampshire, became the first organisation in the UK to install a reverse vending machine, which issues a voucher worth five pence for each acceptable item recycled.

The vouchers can then be spent on items sold in any college restaurant, bar or shop.

The Reverse Vending Corporation, which supplied the machine, said it proved an instant hit when it was installed last month, with students queuing to recycle their used drinks containers.

Steve Stothard, the company's senior vice president and chief technology officer, told edie the machine collected about 2,000 plastic bottles and 1,000 cans in its first week alone.

Project manager Debbie Carless, from Sparsholt College, put forward the idea to install the machine. She said: "By investing in this unique machine, Sparsholt College is taking recycling seriously. It's a great idea and it works."

Vice principal Steve Davies said: "We're thrilled to be the first in the UK to advocate reverse vending recycling.

"It's a great initiative which has already proved popular with students and demonstrates our commitment to environmental sustainability."

The machine is one of a number of initiatives that the college has introduced to encourage recycling, including placing recycling bins in halls of residence and setting up recycling stations across the campus.

They have also provided information about recycling on the student intranet site, alongside an online swap shop for staff and students to advertise unwanted items.

Although reverse vending recycling has been used on the continent for more than three decades, the Reverse Vending Corporation said the college is pioneering the technology in the UK.

Mr Stothard said: "Currently there are political discussions in Scotland about introducing a national deposit scheme, but Sparsholt College will always be recognised as the first to achieve this."

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