If you walk through the streets of Cairo you’re likely to notice one thing. Not the blaring sound of car horns or endless traffic jams that seem to go nowhere, but the piles of rubbish that make up the city’s skyline. Waste is a major problem in Cairo. Every day the city’s 20 million inhabitants produce more than 15,000 tons of waste and according to the World Bank, only 60% of this garbage is collected, the rest is left to clog up the city’s streets and sidewalks.
One company in the capital has come up with an innovative idea to incentivize people to recycle their trash. ZeroPrime Technologies has developed CanBank, a smart reverse vending machine that rewards people for recycling their rubbish. The idea is the vision of Eslam El-Refaye, the company’s founder and CEO. He saw how Egyptian communities would make their living sorting through rubbish and selling valuable materials to manufacturing factories and wanted to help them.
CanBank allows people to recycle plastic bottles and cans in exchange for rewards – such as phone credit or Careem promo codes; but according to El-Refaye, “others [actually] care about helping the environment, which essentially is our aim.” The machine can even play your favorite song or read you a funny message. Once you insert your bottle or can it detects what you have deposited and automatically sorts it, so it’s ready to be given to garbage collectors, who can then sell it to factories.
“People use CanBank for two reasons. Some use it to get rewards, while others care about helping the environment, which essentially is our aim.” Eslam El-Refaye, Founder & CEO, ZeroPrime Technologies
El-Refaye says his company’s smart solution is a great way to solve Egypt’s waste problem. The main issue facing Egypt is that most people are simply not aware of the effects littering has on the country and are not aware of the importance of using trash cans, let alone of the importance of recycling.
El-Refaye says ZeroPrime’s CanBank is just the beginning of their tech-centric solutions to Egypt’s environmental problems. The company plans on installing its reverse vending machines in supermarkets all over the country with the hope of making recycling mainstream. Already, the majority of CanBanks are installed in public spaces like universities which will help instill a culture of recycling among future generations while supporting some of Egypt’s most underprivileged communities.
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