The next time you smile as you grab your favorite drink, the vending machine might just respond in kind – especially if you recycle the package after.

Using cutting-edge facial recognition technologies and a voice interactive system, the VenCycling machine makes purchasing and recycling a variety of Coca-Cola beverages more efficient and intelligent. Sporting emotive AI LEDs and two “eyes” – one that dispenses beverages and another that collects used packaging – the machine offers a smart incentive for consumers to recycle. In exchange for returning used cans or plastic bottles into the machine, consumers receive credits, primarily via mobile devices, for beverages or products made from recycled plastics.

“We envision a system that allows vending machines to also collect used packaging,” explains Dr. Shell Huang, vice president, R&D, Coca-Cola Asia Pacific, which unveiled the innovation at Summer Davos in Tianjin, China. “It will help enhance recycling awareness among consumers and nurture recycling habits."

Innovations like the VenCycling machine support The Coca-Cola Company’s "World Without Waste" vision to help collect and recycle the equivalent of 100 percent of its packaging by 2030. 

Global Shapers Event
More than 200 Global Shapers from all over the world discussed “Shaping a World Without Waste through Innovation” at the Global Shapers Event during Summer Davos.

“VenCycling is an innovation for the company to achieve our global vision for sustainable packaging," said Jiantao Zhang vice president, Coca-Cola Greater China and Korea. "We will use our business efficiency to contribute to sustainable development in China.”

Dr. Peiyuan Guo, co-founder and general manager of SynTao – a consultancy group specializing in green finance – says one way to encourage sustainable development is to reframe plastics as a manufacturing resource with a life, post-bottle, as recycled plastics can transform into other consumer goods.

"With VenCycling," he concludes, "Coca-Cola China has taken a great step by introducing packaging into the value chain of circular economy.”

Davos visitor
A Davos visitor learns about the ways in which PET bottles can be recycled at Coca-Cola’s World Without Waste booth.