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Metro Ticket in Exchange for Plastic Bottles in Rome


Rome introduced a new incentive to tackle plastic pollution and I’m loving it!

The city officials have placed special machines on three main metro stations. The machines take empty plastic bottles, crush them, sort them and give ‘digital money’ in return.

The value of a plastic bottle is 5 cents. This means that you would need to bring 30 bottles in order to get a free metro ride. OK, it is not the most convenient thing, but it does bring you a free ride.

The initiative is probably one of the best ones I have heard of lately. The idea is to raise awareness and give a small incentive in return. To quote Rome’s city mayor, in the times when crypto currency is so popular, why not establish “plastic” currency. It is a way to reward the “good behavior” of the citizens. It also encourages people to take actions and be more mindful when it comes to garbage disposal and recycling. If the program is successful, the city will place more machines in the coming year.

The program is called Ricicli+Viaggi, or ‘Recycle+Travel’, and it is introduced at the time of a huge garbage crisis. Over the past couple of months, the city has just not managed to take care of the ever-so-growing piles of rubbish.

There are only two functioning landfills that serve Rome. Unfortunately, in the last few months, these were severely damaged by fires. In addition to this, two of the biological treatment sites are partly closed for maintenance.

The situation clearly calls for action. Everyone has to be involved, and not expect that some governmental official will find a solution. “Reduce, reuse, recycle” should become the driving motto.

Let’s hope that the pilot of Ricicli+Viaggi is super successful. Perhaps before we know it the normal routine will be as follows. You have a coffee, pack up lunch, pack up the bag with plastic bottles, and then off to catch the metro to work.

Image (c) Derek Holtham

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