Curious about the crunching sounds coming from the basement of the Science Center? It’s the Greenbean Recycling Machine—Harvard’s latest recycling solution—hard at work. A redemption center for recycled goods, the Greenbean Machine is also a sorting whiz, gaming fanatic, and energy savings calculator.
Created by Shanker Sahai and piloted on MIT’s campus in 2011, Greenbean strives to increase recycling by incorporating real time analytics, social media, and gaming into its “reverse vending machine” system. Building Manager Andy LaPLume generously offered to host the machine in Harvard’s Science Center last summer. After working out a few kinks, the Greenbean machine officially launched in early February.
Harvard University’s Associate Manager for Recycling and Waste Management Rob Gogan says, “In talking with student sustainability REPs, they agreed that having a convenient way to redeem cans and bottles to get the nickel deposit back would get more people to recycle. We decided that the Greenbean would be a great way to make redeeming and recycling more convenient.”
Gogan also says that a search is under way to find a year-round campus student organization that would be willing to monitor the machine, swapping full containers with empty ones. The organization would earn up to $1,000 and a chance to solicit students to donate their deposits to their account.