EcoEuros: The Circular Vending Concept

Rotterdam, NetherlandsRotterdam, Netherlands
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

EcoEuros develops, installs, and manages reverse vending machines that accept PET bottles and Alu cans in return for a discount coupon. This not only increases recycling percentages, promotes green awareness, and helps clean up neighborhoods: EcoEuros also ensures that all involved parties profit.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if all people started to realize that a used bottle or can is not rubbish, but a valuable resource that the world cannot afford to waste in the 21st century?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Firstly, EcoEuros tackles a major problem for municipal authorities, public transport venues, and shopping centers: littering. Furthermore, it reduces the transport in waste, and makes sure that the valuable resources PET and aluminum are collected separately. Further, it gives companies the possibility to tangibly contribute to recycling, in a manner that is visible to the general public. Finally, EcoEuros promotes much needed green thinking.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

For EcoEuros, rubbish does not exists. We tackle the mentioned problems by reinventing the rubbish bin, bringing this object into the 21st century. We place reverse vending machines where consumers can place their empty PET bottles and Alu cans. These get squashed, then fall into separate compartments. This reduces transport, and creates a clean separate-stream of used PET and Alu, ensuring this can be properly recycled. As a reward the consumer receives a coupon which can be spent in local shops, stimulating sales. The machine has many advertising possibilities, including static/moving advertisement, narrow casting, and social media possibilities. This makes it an ideal flagship for companies to show they care about the environment.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The primary impact for the general public is that the tube stations are free of bottle and can litter, creating a cleaner environment and a greater sense of wellbeing. The beauty of EcoEuros is that this clean environment is not because of an increase in cleaning staff, but by giving consumers an incentive to recycle. Because the collection is separated, the collected material can be fully recycled. This way, EcoEuros creates a closed-loop recycling infrastructure. Simultaneously, EcoEuros wants to train the general public to recycle. We believe recycling will not continue to be a choice in the 21st century, but a must.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

We will start with a pilot of two machines in the subway of Rotterdam in the fall of 2014. The announcement of this pilot has already led to positive feedback, especially from the recycling industry. We have for example been contacted by a large European recycling company, who have shown interest in working together with us. Furthermore, an advertising company (with whom we are working with during the pilot) have expressed their interest in rolling out the EcoEuro concept. Finally, the retailers in the subway are looking forward to the pilot, and expect that their sales will improve. So: the impact of the pilot is substantial, and gives us a strong incentive to push EcoEuros forward.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

EcoEuros can become a leading company in the circular economy. Our model, which combines adverting, coupons, and recycling, can be implemented in diverse environments. The most logical would be subway/train stations, as all involved parties will benefit from our presence. After the successful pilot in Rotterdam, EcoEuros can spread over all major transport networks. Further, we believe that EcoEuros fits perfectly in gas stations, as they are always looking to increase their shop revenue, and are large retailers of the products which can be recycled in our machine. Plenty of growth potential!

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

There are two clear and sustainable revenue streams. Firstly, the train-gas station / office / etc. will have to pay a lease and service fee for the vending machine. In return, they get less litter (reducing cleaning costs), increase shop/canteen sales, and promote their environmental awareness. Secondly, the machine has advertising space which needs to be sold. We are already working together with an advertising company.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

The basic concept of collecting PET bottles in return for a coupon already exists in Dutch supermarkets. However, this system is partly funded by the government, the value of the coupon is fixed, and there are far developed plans to stop this collection system. Moreover, this system does not fully address the problem of waste in public. The EcoEuro concept is unique, as it incorporates advertising, and uses the vending machine as a crowd traffic builder through the printing of coupons. The value of this coupon can be decided by the enterprise where our machine is standing.

Founding Story

The eureka moment for EcoEuros came while drinking beers with colleagues around the kitchen table. We thought it was a waste to throw the alu cans in the rubbish bin. Then again, as we are all active in the recycling trade, we knew that the value of only the alu could never generate sufficient funds to create a financial incentive for consumers to return the cans. We understood that a viable incentive had to be developed for the consumer to recycle, that we had to incorporate commercial parties, and that all involved parties had to profit. This all had to be realized without the use of state subsidies. Basically we started to re-invent the rubbish bin!


Firstly, the team consists of Chong. Chong has established a successful business in sustainable disposables. Chong’s entrepreneurial spirit, and contacts, are a great help in getting EcoEuros noticed. Furthermore, Thijs is involved. Thijs speaks fluent Chinese, and has lived and worked in China for over 20 years in the recycling industry. This makes him vital in ensuring that the production of the reverse vending machines runs smoothly.
About You
About You
First Name


Last Name

Kleiweg de Zwaan

About Your Project
Organization Name
How long has your organization been operating?

Organization Country

, Rotterdam

Country where this project is creating social impact

, Rotterdam

What awards or honors has the project received?
Funding: How is your project financial supported?



Waste and Packaging, Sustainable Sourcing, Inclusive Business.

Audience: Who have you identified as your customer/recipient groups and do these groups value your solution for different reasons? How do you engage different customer/recipient groups to deliver your solution?

Our customers are all consumers of bottled and canned drinks, as well as the sellers of these drinks. Furthermore, any company wanting to advertise on this green machine can also be considered as our customers. Our recipients are the bottle and can recyclers.

Scaling the solution: How would the prize money and publicity help you to achieve your objectives over the next two years?

The prize money will enable us to develop and purchase more EcoEuro reverse vending machines, enabling us to roll out the business in new locations as well as different environments.

Experience: Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered

I am a trader in recovered paper and plastic. As this is an ever changing market, I constantly have to develop new purchasing and sales markets. I have developed our markets throughout Europe and the Middle East. I have also established our sales presence in Indonesia. These pioneering travels have helped me develop strong negotiation skills, as well as the ability to do business with people from a range of backgrounds and cultures.

Are you are eligible to attend the Accelerator event in Cambridge and subsequent events in London, UK in January, 2015?


Will you require a visa to enter the UK?

Are you are a current Unilever employee?