Rome Transit Goes Green
The city of Rome unveiled new recycling machines around its metro stations where passengers can drop plastic water bottles, receiving five cents apiece through a scan on their phones.
According to Rome’s transportation authority ATAC, the money goes to passengers’ accounts in partner apps “MyCicero” or “Tabnet,” which can be redeemed for public transportation.
ATAC President Paolo Simioni said that “in a period in which cryptocurrency is talked about, we have plastic currency. Substantially, it’s a system in which one recycles, we build customer loyalty and citizens’ virtuous behavior is rewarded.”
The city has slated the initiative’s test run for a year. Since the program launched in the beginning of August, more than 60 thousand recycled bottles are already in the Rome metro in just two weeks, a really promising start. The city’s goal is to recycle over 1 million bottles a year.
This project by the italian capital is certainly well intentioned, but will other cities follow this lead? More importantly can recycling initiatives like these make a meaningful impact? As urgent as good recycling practices are needed in major cities around the world. Economics and crumbling infrastructures could overshadow quality of life improvements gain from such policies.
Take New York City for example. NYCs public transit authority, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), has been cash strapped for the last few decades. The MTA has gradually raised fares over the last few years to try to make sense of its balance sheet. This is all amidst an infrastructure that is breaking down. Slowing down the city that never sleeps.
In June 2017, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for the MTA due to ongoing reliability and crowding problems. This order applied particularly to the New York City Subway, which was the most severely affected by dilapidated infrastructure, causing overcrowding and delays. With many parts of the system approaching or exceeding 100 years of age, general deterioration could be seen in many subway stations.
In order for recycling programs to work they have to reach scale and buy in from everyday citizens. Can our cities be incentivized to make better use of its waste for the common good?
As well intentioned and feel good as these projects maybe, without more substantial economic motivation it maybe hard for these projects to see their full potential.
Think for a second would a five cent metro credit be worth it for you to carry around your empyrean bottles? If not then how much, what’s your number?