A group of teenagers in Italy want to change how young people recycle their used plastic bottles and are doing something about it, reports Upworthy. Instead of throwing the waste bottles in the trash, the teens want their peers to dispose of their plastic bottles in a vending machine called the MyProGeneration, which converts the bottles into cell phone cases. The team of five from the Sicilian town of Bagheria developed the idea as part of Junior Achievement’s Biz Factory competition last year, and made it all the way to the finals in Milan.
The teens wanted to encourage their peers to think creatively about their trash and chose to use a vending machine, a piece of technology that is already familiar to the age group and easy to use. They also selected the name MyProGeneration because they wanted to promote the idea of proactiveness and encourage other teens to be “in favor of something, in favor of the environment,” said the team in a statement.
During the last stage of the Biz Factory contest, their project caught the eye of AXA Italia, which awarded them with the AXA Italia Social Impact Award. This award provided the teens with the opportunity to work with AXA Strategic Ventures and AXA’s Research Fund, two initiatives designed to help innovative projects move from concept to deliverable product.
The proposed MyProGeneration is brilliant in its simplicity and appeal to the teen population. The recycling machine accepts plastic bottles and chips them into pellets that are then melted into a plastic filament. When the filament is ready, the vending machine allows the user to 3D print a cell phone case using the plastic material they just recycled. This process is completed within the vending machine, enabling users to experience firsthand the conversion of a waste bottle into something useful. The team built four prototypes last year and delivered them to customers. The team is currently looking for business partners to help fund the mass production of the vending machine hardware.