TOMRA ReAct case study: Making Bahrain cleaner and healthier step by step

The TOMRA ReAct team will during the summer publish case studies about customers of TOMRA ReAct who are using our software to create new recycling ecosystems around the world. TOMRA ReAct is live with customers and users in several countries around the globe. Our second case study is about Gvision, a recycling solution company in the Kingdom of Bahrain. We’ve interviewed Operation Manager Alaa A. Rahman Hussain to get some fresh insights about the company and program.

Gvision is a company that provides recycling solutions with the help from TOMRA reverse vending machines (RVMs). They develop products, services and ways to sort and recycle empty beverage containers in Bahrain. Their vision is to make the Kingdom of Bahrain greener, healthier and give it a brighter future. Furthermore, their mission is to create a solid ground for recycling solutions and be the leader of this movement in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

Children using the Gpoint RVM at the Bahrain Mall

On a small island in the Middle East rests the Kingdom of Bahrain. The high density of people in this little country creates a large environmental problem. Landfills are filling up while new ones are being planned. Because of the country’s small landmass, large landfills are becoming an issue. Studies show that approximately 40–45% of the landfills consist of empty beverage containers. However, this is not surprising considering that, according to Alaa Hussain, 800.000 bottles are being produced in this area every day and few people in the Bahrain have a habit of recycling. As a result of this problem, the idea of Gvision was started. The founders of Gvision asked themselves;

“Why do we allow our landfills to be filled with so many plastic bottles, when there is a more efficient and sustainable option, such as recycling?”

In November 2014 Gvision was started. Their goal is to contribute to a greener and more sustainable Bahrain, and at the same time give back to the people who choose to recycle their empty beverage containers. To make this goal possible, 100 TOMRA RVMs with the ReAct software were purchased. These RVMs make it possible for people to easily recycle their empty bottles and get rewarded for doing so. For every bottle that is returned at a Gpoint RVM, you receive one point. These points are accumulated and can be used to redeem rewards at Gvision’s digital platform; Gpoint.

Currently, there are several RVMs deployed throughout Bahrain. The machines can be found at different locations such as shopping malls, parks, schools, convenient stores and so on. By the end of September this year hopefully another 85 machines will also be deployed in Bahrain. Recycling is made easy because the RVMs are located in areas where people often walk past, and the reward scheme makes it fun and rewarding as well. All you have to do is create an account, identify yourself at the machine, return your empties and accumulate points. It doesn’t get easier than that!

Gvision is for now dependent upon sponsors, and is not funded by the government. However, the government does support the program non-financially, and they agree that it is an important program for the future of Bahrain. Gvision has sponsors that provide gadgets, gift cards and more for the reward scheme, sponsors that provide locations for the RVMs and financial sponsors. Their main sponsor is the telecom company, VIVA.

“VIVA was glad to be able to help our green initiative, and saw the marketing value in it” — Alaa Hussain, Operation Manager.

The RVM’s screen and wrapping, as well as the reward scheme, make it a great marketing opportunity. The screen can show special deals and contribute to overall marketing of a product or business, while the reward scheme can offer personalized rewards. VIVA has seen the value in this, and provides for example prepaid talk-time for your phone as one of the rewards.

A recycler identifying herself before returning her beverage can

The fact that many people in Bahrain do not have a habit of recycling makes it difficult to get them to do so. That is why it is important for Gvision to give something back to the people, reward them for doing good. Without the reward scheme it would be hard to get people to recycle, especially when they are used to throwing their empty bottles in the trash bin. In the beginning, many people were unsure of the program and they were asking questions about the meaning of it and why they should bother to recycle. This highlights another problem, the fact that the inhabitants know little about recycling. Due to this, Gvision also tries to educate people on the importance of recycling. Admittedly, this seems to be working as there has been a change in the mindset of the people after the start of the program. Many are becoming fond of the reward scheme and are starting to see its purpose. More and more people are learning about recycling and engaging in it, but there is still a way to go.

For the reward scheme to work as an incentive is it important that the rewards have value to the users. This is why the users collect points that can be used to redeem rewards, instead of offering money. Not much money can be offered per bottle, and is therefore in little interest for the users. Instead, Gvision is offering rewards like earphones, DVD players, tablets, movie tickets and more. As Alaa Hussain put it;

“We cannot give you money, but we will give you something more”

However, the scene is a little different when it comes to the children in Bahrain. In fact, the children have been more interested in competing with each other, then redeeming the rewards. They are competing at their schools to be the best recycler, to be the “greenest” kid at school. There is no doubt that the Gpoint RVMs have made recycling fun for the children too! They are asking their parents to give them empty bottles they can take to school and recycle. Certainly, this is great news for the future of Bahrain. If children can make a habit of recycling, then this will be something that they will most likely take with them for the rest of their lives. In others words, the next generation will hopefully be more sustainable than today’s generation.

Overall, the program is contributing greatly to a cleaner, greener and healthier Bahrain. Although, this is just the beginning. Gvision has great potential and large goals to meet, and is still just in their first phase. Purchasing and deploying more and more advanced machines as well as getting a factory to do the rest of the recycling process, is on the agenda.

The ReAct team wishes everyone working in Gvision the best, and we are looking forward to seeing what the future of the program will bring. And to everyone else: continue recycling your empties!

Author: Ellen Bjorvatn