Rewarding People with a Choice that Awards

Mind if I tell you another alarming statistic about plastic consumption and waste? (Those of you who follow Naked Civics know that I address this issue now and then). OK here goes: 15,000 beverage bottles and cans are littered or landfilled in Australia every single minute.

Yep, every minute.

The city of Sydney, Australia has designed a very interesting concept that will hopefully aid in addressing this serious issue. Located on two corners of the city’s streets are what are called Envirobank reverse vending machines.  These aren’t your everyday recycling containers, however; they dispense prizes in exchange for your recyclables. (more…)

From Mega-Waste to Nanotech

What do you do with the mountain of plastic bags you stash in the cupboard under your sink? I’m not asking in a rhetorical way – I actually want to know! If you have pets, perhaps you use them on your walks. I once heard of a woman who cuts plastic bags into long, narrow pieces and weaves them into bags that she then sends to India. Interesting use for something that typically dies after one use, isn’t it?

So I was more than a little impressed when I learned of turning something as simple as a plastic bag into a second use that is anything but simple. Researchers at the University of Adelaide have developed a process that turns plastic bags into a high-tech nanomaterial. Nanomaterial is usually expensive and complex to produce, but by turning plastic bags – of which we have an endless supply – into carbon nanotube membranes, the cost of this expensive nanotechnology can be drastically decreased. (more…)


On Tuesday of this week the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Winona, Minnesota produced Coca-Cola’s last run of the classic 6.5-ounce glass returnable bottles. After 80 years of Americans buying, storing, lugging and returning these glass containers, Coca-Cola is intentionally ending a much-loved era.

And that’s a good thing. Were glass returnables bad? Not at all. But while these bottles are nostalgic for many of us and it’s sad to see them go, when you look beyond the memorabilia aspect something else becomes clear: the state of recycling has vastly matured. We went from the laborious process of schlepping the heavy bottles back and forth for store redemption to easier, more commonplace curbside recycling. Easier means higher participation rates for recycling.

Oh, and by the way those heavy glass bottles were a real burden to ship to the store in the first place so there are improvements in transportation gas mileage now too. (more…)


OK, I lied.  This isn’t about beer.  It’s about beverages in general and specifically it’s about the container, i.e. your sometimes not-so-eco-friendly bottle.  When you want to slake your thirst you want liquid.  The bottle is secondary.  But as we all know, oftentimes that bottle has primary impacts, especially when we’re talking about the billions of plastic bottles that hold our water and sodas.  A mere quarter of those containers make into the recycling bin, and that’s not to mention all the petroleum that is needed to produce something that not only is easily replaced but has absolutely no effect on the thing you were trying to buy in the first place: a beverage. (more…)