A good exemple that Finland looks forward in been eco-friendly, is with the can and bottle recycling system. All supermarkets have a machine which is possible to return them and, in doing that, they pay you! You can take plastic or glass drinking bottles and aluminium cans, and each type of material has a different price that will vary in between 10 to 40 cents of euro per unit. For sure, they value more than the material itself and I believe that this difference exists to incentive people to return them straight to the machines.
We’ve put a lot of cans and some bottles together and we’ve taken them to the market we usually go to make the trade. We had many non-Finnish cans, so we did not earn money with them. But even so, we took them for recycling.
The machine identifies the material and how much it values through the bar code. We put it in the machine, the item follows the mat and it drops it on its own container! It is important that the cans and bottles are intact and not crushed. As you put more itens, your account grows and it counts how many products you’ve recycled. At the end, it prints a voucher that you can use as a discount coupon at the grocery store! Furthermore, you can only use the coupon in the supermarket that you returned the cans!
Every time we go to Tallinn we make a stock, because it is cheaper to buy alcohol there. So, even gaining money to return the cans, buying in Estonia still costs less and whenever we can, we bring it from there! That is why you will able to see that there is a number of cans and bottles that have no value at the coupon! Hehe
This initiative is very nice and is a very efficient way of recycling! However, there is something that really bothers me! As the machines pays for the return of the material, many people increase their income by collecting them from the bins. Most people take them for recycling, but others don’t and many people end up throwing cans on the street instead of putting them in the trash. It is not uncommon to see cans thrown in flowerbeds, around the bins and on the street in general! And I think that’s horrible. Whenever I see the scavengers, I see that they look inside the dumpsters as well, so why not throw everything in the bins? Or put trash cans only for this type of material throughout the city?
I really get upset when I see someone throwing a can on the floor! At least knowing that there is a recycling system makes me see the other side of the coin. I understand why they throw them around and it’s because they know someone is going to collect them. But this way of thinking does not make sense to me. It’s still trash, that messes up the city and that contributes for the pollution of woods, rivers and lakes!
Anyway, at least you already know. Whenever you come to Finland, you can exchange these itens in any market for something you wish to buy! We had a discount of 8.90 euros, which was almost 1/4 of the total value of what we purchased!
I believe you can find these machines in other European countries and I wished we had them in Brazil too! I think it could work down there! Do you also have them where you live? Does it help the recycling system of your area? Let me know what you think about them!
Lili is half Peruvian, half Brazilian, a dreamer Pisces kind of girl, curious, life lover and travel addicted! She`s been to 53 countries, loves to explore different cultures and to travel to the most unusual destinations. Currently lives in Finland, is a monthly columnist for the website Brasileiras pelo Mundo (a Brazilian platform of expat women) and founder of Hey, I am Lili. She believes that the most important things in life are to laugh out loud, a good wine and people she loves always around anywhere in this world!