Pay for transport or phone credit by recycling bottles in Beijing

Posted Aug 19, 2014 by James Walker
A new system introduced in Beijing is allowing people to get free phone card rebates or passes to public transport in exchange for simply recycling a used drinks bottle.
Food and drink cans in recycling bin
Food and drink cans in recycling bin
Tom Morris (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Thirty-four new electronic recycling machines have been installed around the city, including in popular tourist places such as the Temple of Heaven, as Pangea Today reports. This will help encourage visitors to China to facilitate in the program too, as it is estimated that in excess of 60,000 people come to the temple each day.
Users simply drop their empty bottle into the machine to gain their free reward. The machine automatically detects what the bottle is made of and calculates its value. This amount is then either credited to the person's mobile account by simply entering their number at a prompt. Alternatively, they can choose to be issued with a free pass to the city's transport system.
The system should help to lower the carbon emissions produced by Beijing, and the entirety of China, by encouraging recycling — something already proactively followed by the majority of western countries. Currently, Beijing recycles around 15,000 tons of bottles a year, saving around 9 tons of carbon emissions. With an added incentive to recycle though, these figures are expected to grow over the next 12 months.
The process from dropping the bottle in the bin to grabbing the reward is around 30 seconds, according to Sina News who originally reported on the project. It is certainly an interesting system and could perhaps be copied by other cities, including those in the US and Europe. Would you be happy to find a recycling bin to throw your bottle in if you were promised some free phone credit or train ticket?