Greenbean Recycle

Fingers crossed!

Here’s a nifty idea hatched on the East Coast that I hope will soon head its wagons west …

Greenbean Recycle (or “GB Recycle,” as all the cool kids call it) is an innovative approach to keeping cans and bottles—both plastic and glass—out of garbage cans.


Image by Benoit Rochon via Wikimedia Commons

The gist:

  • Recycle a can in a vending-type machine
  • Get an instant deposit in your Paypal account
  • Learn the energy benefit of your one simple action

The Greenbean machine will happily keep tabs on recycling competitions between you and friends, too.


Photo by Jarrod Jones, MIT Department of Facilities

“When users see their names on a leader board, they are more engaged to come and continue recycling,” says inventor Shanker Sahai. “Recycling is a boring chore and sometimes you don’t know how your effort makes a difference or even if it is recycled and re-used, so by showing a user that even one bottle or can makes a difference in real time, the user is encouraged to keep recycling.”

And, hey, the Greenbean makes fun crushing sounds.

Can’t beat that!

How, you ask, does this machine differ from the “reverse vending machines” outside grocery stores and strip malls where you can return bags full of recyclables?

Sahai designed the Greenbean to be convenient for a passerby who just finished a single bottle of water and is likely to pitch in in the trash.


Photo by Dsw4 via Wikimedia Commons

The eight machines installed to date are strategically located on college campuses. Hopefully, their success will fuel a demand for Greenbeans in office buildings and on street corners nationwide.

Check out the project’s Live Stats for today at GB Recycle.

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    What a great idea! Pure genius! We are very lucky in our community because recycling bins are provided to every family for paper and cans/plastic etc. They are picked up weekend on the roadside with the regular garbage pick up. It makes it so easy to be a good earth steward when the community embraces the need. In addition, our grocery stores have recycle bins for their paper bags, plastic bags, and styrofoam containers. At my last job in the hospital, we had a “Green Team” which helped implement many simple and easy ways for employees to recycle in the cafeterias and break rooms. There are so many creative solutions possible but strategic location availability has a lot to do with compliance. the new GB recycle does a great job of making the process easy and fun!

  2. What a wonderful idea! It’s win-win-win! And what better place to start, but college campuses. I hope there will be many more in every major city/town across the country. I could see these at beaches, amusement parks, playgrounds, sports stadiums, etc…<3

  3. karlyne says:

    What a brilliant idea! Where I live in Podunk we have no recycling, and, seriously, one of these machines in front of the local gas/convenience store would have a huge impact!

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