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Cool technology is humming under the streets of Beijing. There, in the subway system, some unique machines are showing up that have lots of people talking. New "Reverse Vending Machines" take your recyclable plastic bottles that would normally be waste, and trades them in for value. Travelers deposit soda, water, and other drink bottles into the contraption, and it then dispenses credits for subway rides, adding the value onto refillable tickets. The mass transit system has started the rollout of the recycling technology, eventually targeting a laudable goal of 3,000 recycle-for-a-reward stations.

People pay with plastic, keeping it out of already overflowing refuse sites and landfills, and getting it into the recycling stream. The main company providing the machines, Incom, hopes to keep thousands of bottles off the streets where they are often discarded. Best-case scenario will have the recycling for rebate stations at bus stops and other public transportation hubs as well as parking areas, where the rebates could offset parking fees. Trash for tickets--it's a good way to get compliance with programs to limit litter.

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About The Author

Andrew Mersmann's picture

Andrew is the author of Frommer's global guide to volunteer vacations, "500 Places Where You Can Make a Difference" (Gold Medal Winner from Society of American Travel Writers: Best Guide Book 2010). He spent more than a decade on the editorial team of PASSPORT Magazine. He has volunteered and led teams on service projects around the world, and is honored to be on the boards of directors for the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation (AARBF.org) and Mentor Artists Playwrights Project (mentorartists.org). Mersmann has been a featured speaker, interview guest, or moderator on several travel talks, from the New York Times Travel Show, Smithsonian Associates, and the 92nd Street Y-TriBeCa to Oprah and Friends, Animal House, and The Focus Group on satellite radio as well as on NY1 television. Past participant at the Clinton Global Initiative and judge for Condé Nast World Changers Conference, he blogs about volunteering and service travel at www.ChangeByDoing.com. As part of the evox television team, he is dedicated to audience engagement, so if you're not engaged, he needs to be thumped on the head (gently)...or at least told (nicely). Twitter: /ChangeByDoing

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