Rome has rolled out a new pilot project that allows commuters to recycle PET bottles in exchange for credit toward their metro tickets.
The city installed reverse vending machines (RVMs) at three metro stations, allowing travelers to insert plastic bottles and accumulate credit toward tickets through MyCicero or Tabnet apps, which are operated by Rome’s public transport authority, ATAC.
The pilot, called Ricicli+Viaggi (Recycle + Travel), will run for 12 months. Machines will collect and sort the plastic bottles. Rome’s Mayor Virginia Raggi reported July 29 that more than 11,000 plastic bottles were recovered and recycled through the pilot in the first week.
The initiative aims to provide a solution to Italy's single-use plastic and waste problem. According to environmental group Legambiente’s Beach Litter 2019 report, which studied 93 beaches, an average of 968 pieces of waste per 100 meters is present on Italian beaches. While more than 80 percent of the material found was plastic and polystyrene, the report concludes “objects of every shape, material, size, color” are in the sand and entering the oceans.
Raggi introduced a ban on single-use plastics in the city in March. She says the pilot project is a “real innovation to combat plastic pollution, which points to the circular economy," adding that all the bottles collected at the three stops will be recycled into new bottles.
“We encourage the purchase of tickets and we do a good deed in favor of the environment because even small gestures are important,” she says.
Oct. 2018, Istanbul launched a similar project that allows passengers to add credit to their metro cards by recycling plastic bottles and aluminum cans through RVMs. Istanbul plans to install at least 100 more at 25 locations across the city, including schools and universities, according to a report by The New York Times.