A green coin for buying everything

Carlos Carabaña

Even in the best of cases, recycling can be a little boring. Having different rubbish bags, remembering what kind of residual goes on each one, going to a container several times as each separate one fills up…In Amsterdam, one of the ‘greenest’ cities in Europe, they’ve found a solution through a more classic incentive: money.

Wasted is the name of the company that created the concept in 2015, under the name Green Coins. Basically, it consists of a virtual currency with which to get discounts and other benefits in different shops in the northern and eastern parts of the city. The way to get this currency is simple: recycle.

To earn this currency, users first register on the Web, and then receive a kit with 12 rubbish bags. When one of them is full –whether of plastic, paper or textiles– they throw it into a container, after first having scanned the QR code on the bag and uploaded a photo of the bag to send to the company through an application. One bag is a Green Coin that can then be exchanged for goods at several shops.

There are 150 different rewards. They include a yoga class, a second soft drink, two extras sauces in a meal, a 10% discount on a cup of coffee, a Reiki treatment, a workshop on how to prepare  perfect coffee, a 50% discount on a bag of candy, a free copy of a key, a flavoured condom…It should be noted that this is more a coupon for services than an actual coin like the euro.

Since 2015 the system has collected more than a ton of plastics and now is used by almost 1,200 conscientious citizens. In June of 2017 it introduced an option for paper, textiles and glass. According to a study by Wasted, 52% of the users said had improved their habits with regard to waste, while 23% had reduced their total use of plastics when they saw how much accumulated each week.

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