I've always been comfortable with humans' relationship with vending machines: we feed them money, they feed us high-fructose corn syrup, everyone's happy. Envirobank wants to upset this age-old ritual with their "reverse vending machines".
The pitch: these boxes, fashioned like regular ol' vending machines, will eat, clean and smush your recyclable empties, rewarding you for your good deed with coupons, cash credit or vouchers for nearby stores. Your good deed, of course, was that you a) recycled a plastic bottle and b) watched a targeted advertisement on the machine's LCD screen. As of last week, they've been deployed in a few locations in Envirobank's native Australia, but only on a trial basis.
Envirobank claims the machines not only encourage recycling, but reduce carbon emissions by preparing the empties for direct shipment to a recycling depot, bypassing waste processing facilities altogether. I'm not sure that building a massive machine, replete with screens, processors, motors and pumps, results in a net decrease in emissions compared to driving some bottles around, but their hearts are in the right place, and 'details' like that tend to be ignored anyway. [RedFerret]