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  • 04.30.10

Pepsi’s “Dream Machine” Gives Rewards for Recycling, Giant Check Comes Later

Gimmick or Genius?

Forget
recycling bins. PepsiCo has a new bottle-tossing machine that purports to
save the world and give Americans what they want. And what what they
want, dear reader, is free stuff.

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At 150 Rite Aids across North
Carolina, ATM-like recycling kiosks emblazoned with Pepsi’s logo
(natch), exchange empty cans and bottles for all sorts of goodies. It’s like a gumball machine with a social conscience, and a whopping 3,000 of these will be installed in southern California by summer’s end.

But will
it actually encourage people to recycle?

The Dream Machine, as
it’s called, works like this: Scan your bottle, then toss it into a
chute. The machine registers how many points it’s worth and prints out
a receipt. Then you go to Greenopolis.com to
redeem points for Blockbuster certificates, discounts at Johnny
Rockets, and yeah, probably a bunch of Pepsi junk. Still confused?
Greenopolis trots out a hot blonde “reporter” to share the deets:

It’s
hard to imagine anyone other than an allowance-starved 12-year-olds
getting excited about this sort of thing. (And Blockbuster? What’s your
target audience, Boca Raton?)

Then again, bottle recycling machines are
a good idea, especially in a country where public bins are few and far
between
.
So if you really want to appeal to the Boca set, why not turn the Dream
Machine into a slot machine? Or, make it print coupons? Hell, it could
spit out kittens for all we care. Anything but Blockbuster.

Europe,
by the way, has had bottle-recycling machines for years. Countries like
Norway and Germany don’t need silly gimmicks to convince people to
recycle. They rely on cold hard cash.

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They might be onto something: Afterall, if you were considering going out of your way to recycle a can, isn’t a bit of instant gratification the best motivator?

If so, we’ve got an even better idea: What if, when you recycled a can, you got a random cash reward, up to five bucks or so?

About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D.

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