Trade plastic bottles for a metro ticket in Rome

Commuters in Rome can now earn public transport credits by recycling plastic bottles.

Travel News - Virginia Raggi tests the new technology. The Mayor of Rome
Mayor of Rome Virginia Raggi at the launch of the recycling scheme at San Giovanni. Image by Matteo Nardone/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty

Following the introduction of a similar campaign in Istanbul, commuters in Rome can save cash and be a little kinder to the environment by swapping plastic for transit credits. At three stations in Rome - Cipro on the A line, Piramide on the B line and San Giovanni on the C line - commuters can recycle plastic bottles in reverse vending machines in exchange for credits that can be used towards bus and metro tickets.

People will receive a credit of five cents for each bottle recycled, meaning if they recycle 30 bottles they'll receive a standard €1.50 ticket. Bottles can be any size from 0.25cl to 2 litres. Once the bottles are pushed through the vending machine to be crushed and sorted, commuters will receive credits can be redeemed through the myCicero and Tabnet apps.

Travel News - Mayor of Rome Virginia Raggi presents the Atac campaign for
The campaign, presented by Virginia Raggi, is called called "+Ricicli+Viaggi" Image by Matteo Nardone/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty

The eco-friendly initiative, called Ricicli+Viaggi (Recycle + Travel) was launched on Wednesday by the Mayor of Rome, Virginia Raggi, on behalf of Rome's transport network Atac. The machines will be in place for a 12-month "test-phase." If they prove to be a success, authorities will expand the scheme.

Paolo Simoni, president of Atac, said that "in a period in which crypto-currency is talked about, we have plastic currency. Substantially, it's a system in which one recycles, we build customer loyalty and citizens' virtuous behaviour is rewarded."

Travel News - Italian Daily Politics 2019
Romans march for "dignity and public health - stop the waste emergency" in response to the city's waste management problem. Image by Stefano Montesi - Corbis/Corbis via Getty

Italy is the fourth most-wasteful country in Europe, producing enough rubbish to fill the Colosseum over 12 times, according to a 2017 report by the consultancy group Expert Market. And Rome has been struggling to cope with a rubbish crisis for the past several years. Overflowing bins are a common sight and in the midst of a summer heatwave, doctors are warning they pose a serious health risk.

While the recycling scheme certainly isn't enough to stem the tide of rubbish in the Eternal City, it's certainly a step in the right direction. As Raggi said in a statement, "even small gestures are important."