Worried that most of its bottles and cans are going into the trash instead of the recycling bin, PepsiCo Inc. plans to place thousands of new recycling kiosks this year at concert venues, in grocery stores and along city sidewalks.
The Purchase, N.Y., beverage giant and partner Waste Management Inc. are in search of the green movement's elusive prey, the so-called unreachable bottle tossed away by people on the go.
The average recycling rate for nonalcoholic U.S. beverage containers is 34%, and only 25% for plastic bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate, better known as PET. Advocates say the most difficult bottle to recycle is the drink consumed on the go, as it's cumbersome to carry sticky bottles home to a bin.
PepsiCo and Waste Management want to recycle at least 400 million containers annually by putting as many as 3,000 kiosks in busy places this year, and offering incentives. "We have to get people to put up with a little inconvenience and say, 'I'll hang on to it a little bit and get a little bit of a reward," said Tim Carey, PepsiCo's sustainability director.
"There's got to be something in it for people, both through material rewards and emotional rewards," said Jeremy Cage, PepsiCo's "Dream Machine" project director.
In addition to unreachable bottles, the makers of the new machine also hope to attract what they see as unreachable consumers, who eschew recycling as a waste of time.
The Dream Machine is an attempt to be all things to all people. "Dark green" environmentalists can carry key fobs that track and reward their personal recycling efforts, and link them to a social network with regular news feeds. People who recycle at home but not on the go would get an incentive such as a chance to win a baseball cap. Those cool to environmental causes might be interested in the sponsors' promise of a per-bottle donation to the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans, a business training program for disabled veterans.
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