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Bus Éireann and Grow Mental Health Launch Reverse Vending Machines

Bus Éireann, Ireland’s national bus company, is encouraging customers in Dublin and Letterkenny to return their plastic bottles and aluminium drinks cans to reverse vending machines in its bus stations. Between the two stations there is an expected footfall of over 3m passengers a year that will be able to avail of the reverse vending machines.

Reverse vending machines assist in reducing single use plastics, while helping Ireland meet EU targets and promote a wider circular economy.

Bus Éireann has fully committed to the forthcoming deposit return scheme by introducing its first ever reverse vending machine trial at Busáras and Letterkenny bus stations with plans to extend the trial to other stations around the country. Bus Éireann is one of the first transport operators in Ireland to introduce vending machines in their transport hubs.

There’s a charity element too – with €6,000 being donated to Grow Mental Health for the duration of the trial. This partnership follows on from a successful travel photo exhibition with stories of hope and recovery from Grow members and further promotes positive mental health and raises vital funds for Grow Mental Health. Grow is one of Ireland’s longest standing mental health charities, empowering and supporting over 1,000 people weekly, Grow Mental Health, which was set up in 1969, has recorded a 400% year on year increase in demand for services since the pandemic began.

The reverse vending machines are supplied by Irish company Sensi Ltd and are capable of collecting and storing between 200-400 items at a time depending on the volume. The machines can accept PET plastic bottles up to two litres in volume and aluminium cans up to 500ml in volume.

The cans and bottles are collected and recycled by Bus Eireann’s waste contractor. It is hoped the introduction of reverse vending machines in Bus Éireann stations will help Bus Éireann achieve a 70% recycling rate by 2030 as part of overall sustainability strategy “Driving Change 2021-2030”.

Emer Bambrick, Senior Sustainability Manager, Bus Éireann, said, “we are very pleased to become one of the first transport hubs in Ireland to  introduce reverse vending machines which will contribute to the forthcoming national Deposit Return Scheme and help contribute positively towards achieving national and EU waste targets. We are extremely happy that our customers can use the reverse vending machines to recycle their empty plastic bottles and cans while  also giving back to such a good cause as Grow who do important work supporting people with mental health challenges right throughout the country. This is a great concept that makes recycling attractive to our customers, benefits the environment and gives back to society.”

Grow Mental Health, Chief Executive Officer, Michèle Kerrigan who welcomed the donations from the initiative, said, “we are delighted to benefit from Bus Éireann’ s new recycling trial of reverse vending machines in Busáras and Letterkenny said Grow Mental Health. Grow Mental Health is a registered charity and we deliver Mental Health Education Programmes both within the community and the workplace. The aim of these programmes is to increase awareness of Mental Health, to outline the relevance of Mental Health in our daily lives and to focus on the importance of maintaining one’s own Mental Health and general sense of wellbeing. In addition, we provide peer support groups both online and face to face. The donation of €500 per month generated from this investment scheme will help many people with mental health issues across Ireland.”

This partnership initiative is to promote recycling reward schemes in bus stations and promote positive mental health. Bus Éireann employs over 2,700 people, operates 1,100 vehicles, and facilitated 89 million passenger trips in 2019. Bus Éireann launched its first ever sustainability strategy in 2021, which encompasses targets for climate, waste, cities and communities, education, equality and safe work.

Source: Bus Éireann

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