#1702: WagerWaste

Today’s invention offers another way to deal with my bugbears: litter.

Since everything these days has to be gamified, why not that too? We used to get money back on bottles, but the (uniform) value was too small to be sustainable.

Today’s invention is a rubbish-bin-cum-vending machine which contains a barcode reader and some cash.

When someone puts an item of litter into a slot in the machine, its barcode is automatically read (pretty much every discarded product package has a barcode on it somewhere).

If the barcode has been chosen to be ‘lucky’ on a given day, the depositor will receive a cash payout, ranging say from 20p to £100. This will encourage people to seek out a machine before dropping their litter and even to collect what others have dropped.


  1. I would guess it would still be easy to game. You could just print out a sheet of many different barcodes and cut them up into single barcodes, then feed them one at a time into the rubbish bin. It probably wouldn’t take too long to feed, say, 500 barcodes in. And if there is less than a one in 500 chance at winning, the average payout is going to have to be pretty high for people to bother – which will further incentivize gaming.

    • I agree Rory. I’d probably put the bins in public locations to discourage people from tricking the system.

      I think it would only work in any case if people felt they were getting some small reward/recognition for cleaning up, rather than expecting some kind of big payoff.

      If it actually resulted in people ‘gaming’ the system that would at least be a sign that imaginations were engaged…there are numerous ways in which such a system could then be altered over time to improve its performance.

Comments are closed