In Israel, picking up trash can be rewarded with virtual money

In the green valley that borders her small town in northern Israel, Elishya Ben Meir walks her dog Luna and collects abandoned garbage as she goes, which she has located through a mobile application that rewards her gesture with virtual money.

On this autumn afternoon, Elishya places in a plastic bag what she has found that day: food containers, plastic bottles, cardboard and a large glass bottle.

For every bag she fills and throws into a garbage container Elishya receives ten Clean Coins, a new virtual currency launched by a start-up Israeli, of the same name, and that you can spend in partner stores.

“Everywhere I look, I see garbage,” laments this 18-year-old girl with blue eyes and blond hair. “People drink, barbecue, and leave all their remains, it is very unpleasant, and it smells bad.”

But before throwing her bag into the garbage container that is a few meters away, the young woman photographs it collected, to demonstrate her work. “Today I have won about 30 Clean Coins” he congratulates himself.

“Each black dot on a map represents a garbage point if marked by a user,” says Adam Ran, 35, co-founder and CEO of Clean Coin in the offices of the company, showing his phone. start-up in Haifa, a port city in the north of the country.

“Have more than 16,000 users, of which 1,200 are active every week“continues Gal Lahat, 21, co-founder and director.

The platform has been devised as a treasure hunt, with different levels and points, he says. “You can see its progression relative to other users. We want it to be like a game.”

And the retribution encourages everyone to make a gesture in favor of the environment, he says.

“Of course that motivates,” Elishya confirms, especially when it comes to cleaning particularly dirty places. “It is beneficial for nature, and I take advantage of it too,” says the young woman, who has gone to exchange her Clean Coins for a T-shirt at a surf clothing store in Haifa.

Clean Coin It is not a typical cryptocurrency but a kind of exchange credit that rewards good ecological behavior.

More than 25 companies “committed to the environment” have joined the network, highlights Adam Ran. Users can acquire objects, and also “pay” activities such as room climbing or spending nights at affiliated hotels

Manage garbage
The virtual currency is subsidized by various private and public bodies, especially municipalities and regional councils, who see in it a form of optimize garbage management, a real problem in Israel.

For Amiad Lapidot, an expert within the environmental organization Adam Teva V’din, the arrival of Clean Coin is “very good news” in “a country that produces so much garbage per inhabitant”.

Israel generates an average of 1.7 kilos of waste per person per day, against 1.4 in European countries, Lapidot assures AFP.

The Hebrew state carries a reputation for being addicted to plastic, especially to the bags that are abandoned and pollute its coasts and green spaces.

“Israel produces a million plastic waste per year and this represents 18% of all waste, against 12% in European countries,” he explains.

For him, initiatives such as Clean Coin are in addition to the measures defended by his NGO, such as the extension of the law on returnable bottles or the tax on plastic cutlery, which are so successful in Israel. “But it is also essential to find a way to produce less waste“he concludes.