BEIRUT: As the Naameh landfill crisis highlighted the need for new waste solutions in Beirut, the American University of Beirut kicked off a novel campaign this week allowing students to recycle plastic and aluminum in exchange for points that can be redeemed for rewards such as free food or gym passes.
The Recycle, Reward and Redeem campaign went into effect Wednesday as part of a pilot program that could soon spread to the rest of the region.
Three reverse vending machines that “eat” empty bottles and cans were placed at different locations on campus. The machines were provided by Servicorp, which, like Sukleen, falls under the umbrella of the Averda Company and has signed a contract with AUB.
Students can deposit their garbage and receive coupons in return, which they then register with an online account to use for selected rewards.
These rewards range from water bottles to guest passes to all gym facilities, usually off-limits to the public.
AUB has been recycling much of its waste since the early 1990s, but getting students involved has proven to be a challenge.
“The main problem we have at AUB is the adherence of students to the recycling policies” said Farouk al-Merhebi, director of the environmental health, safety and risk management department. “This will hopefully add some encouragement.”
Anis Abdullah, the grounds and transfer service manager, boasted that AUB was the first institution in the Middle East to support recycling.
“Recycling bins were introduced in our facilities in the early ’90s,” Abdullah said. “The estimated weight of paper can range from 200 kg to 1.8 tons per month, depending on what point of the semester we are at.”
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 24, 2014, on page 3.