- Several of Mumbai's stations now have 'Swachh Bharat Recycling Machines'
- These allow people to swap their used bottles for discount coupons
- The idea is to encourage people to recycle and keep the stations clean
Bottles which would otherwise end up strewn across railway platforms and tracks can now help pay for your groceries! A unique initiative started by Western Railway and the Wockhardt Foundation has set up ‘Swachh Bharat Recycling Machines’ across stations in Mumbai allows people swap their used plastic bottles for reward points and discounts. This plastic can be recycled to produce polyester yarn which can be used in clothing. The idea has taken off and the machines have been hugely successful among the city’s commuters.
How does this work?
It is quite simple, really. People horizontally insert the Polyethylene terephthalate (PET ) bottle into the chute, where it is analysed and crushed by the machine. A single machine has the capacity to hold and process 5,000 bottles per day. In return, the machine gives users the option to consider the bottle as a donation, get Paytm points or receive discount coupons for ‘Sahakari Bhandar’ and‘Reliance Fresh’ stores.
This projected debuted on June 5, 2016, which was also the World Environment Day, with one of these machines being installed in South Mumbai’s Churchgate station. Since then, with the positive response from the public as an impetus, similar machines have been installed at Dadar, Mumbai Central, Goregaon, Andheri, Santacruz and Bandra stations.
“We want to bring this number up to 20,” says Mukul Jain, Divisional Railway Manager of Mumbai Central Division of Western Railway, “This roll-out should be completed in the next two months. After this, we will look at the possibility of installing these elsewhere as well.”
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For now, Wockhardt Foundation is working on making this even more attractive by introducing more discounts from other stores and eateries. Mr Jain tells NDTV, that one of the companies with which negotiations are ongoing is a leading pizza chain.
“While the response has been really good, we hope that we’ll be able to attract even more people to use the machines with more rewards,” he says.
These reward schemes, according to the Wockhardt Foundation, “motivate repeated use” of the machine by individuals.
A Sustainable Business Model
What is incredible is that this project has been made self-sufficient, and does not cost the railways anything.
“What we wanted was that these machines would be run at no expense to the railways. In fact, we were looking at ways that this could generate revenue as well. For instance, the sides of the machine can be used as advertising space,” Mr Jain says.
He estimates that the advertising on a single machine can earn the railways over ₹2 lakh. Additionally, the crushed PET bottles are being recycled into polyester yarn which can be used to make clothes—offering a model which is a win-win for the government, the environment and everyone else involved.