December 13, 2011 – Most people are familiar with how vending machines work. They’ve been using them for their entire lives. But what about reverse vending machines?
Penn State, PepsiCo and Waste Management teamed up to create a convenient and easy way to recycle plastic bottles and aluminum cans. Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, has two Dream Machines headed its way; students will be able to drop their used bottles and cans into the machines, which will be located in two high-traffic areas on campus.
“Our Greener Behrend Task Force brought the idea to us,” Mike Lindner, Penn State Behrend’s Housing and Food Services director, said. “We saw it as another way to be greener.”
The campus’ task force is made of students, faculty and staff. The Dream Machines will be installed near Bruno’s Cafe outside the Reed Union Building, and outside Perry Hall in the residence halls area. Students can receive Pepsi points for recycling the items, which can be used to get discounts or rewards. Alternatively, students can choose to have money donated to a charity. Rewards are made through the web site greenopolis.com.
“Students are ecstatic about it,” Lindner said. “And the power requirements of the machine are very low... equivalent to a light bulb.”
The Dream Machines are being provided at no cost to Penn State. One machine holds as many as 300 bottles and cans, and—through a cellular modem—alerts Waste Management when it's approaching capacity.
PepsiCo is striving to boost the nation’s beverage container recycling rate by 50 percent in the coming years; Penn State Behrend will get two of the 3,000 Dream Machines that will be installed all over the country. Other Penn State campuses have looked into ordering the machines and may soon have their own in the near future. University Park will not install Dream Machines, due to feasibility reasons.
“It's just an example of HFS getting in on the University’s green and sustainable initiatives,” Lindner said.