The marketing world is keen on vending machine stunts, with stunts allowing them to accept everything from hugs to Canadian passports to piano playing to motionlessness (this trend was skewered nicely by Taxi). Now, in an effort to tackle pollution, Volkswagen has created one that accepts batteries instead of currency in Russia.
Small AA-style disposable batteries often contain heavy metals such as mercury. According to PSFK, each one can pollute more than 20 square metres of ground, more than 15 million batteries and accumulators are thrown away in Russian cities each year.
Ad agency DDB Russia installed the ‘Think Machines’ around Moscow as part of Volkswagen’s global ‘Think Blue’ campaign. The campaign is aimed at boosting the car company’s environmental credibility.
Feeding the machine two batteries gets users a Volkswagen-branded stress ball, four batteries buys a bottle of (presumably branded but not particularly environmentally friendly) water. Six batteries gets an “eco t-shirt.” But maybe free vodka would be more appealling.
PSFK says a single machine collected more than 8,000 batteries within a month of installation. A regular Russian collection point usually gathers less than 1000 per month.
In New Zealand, the Ministry for the Environment says lead acid batteries such as car batteries have a high environmental impact if not disposed of responsibly. They are accepted by most petrol stations, garages and council waste facilities for recycling.
Zinc carbon or chloride batteries and alkaline manganese batteries, which go in toys, calculators, torches and other small items are not considered hazardous to throw away, but rechargeable batteries and those with lithium, silver or mercury inside should be dropped off at council facilities.