Imagined Earth – leading the evolution of recycling and waste management

We are ecstatic to see the change that Imagined Earth in partnership with business is driving. We have been in the Imagined Earth community for a little over a year now and each day we are growing our knowledge about the circular economy. We all have a role to play in our future, so are yourself is this “how you Imagined Earth”? Imagined Earth has a few innovative developments to share over the coming months as they continue to expand the network of reverse vending technology throughout South Africa.

Waste, rewards and a sustainable future.

These are not often words that you see in the same sentence, but thanks to Imagined Earth and reverse vending technology we are able to close the loop – collecting waste and offering consumers a way to contribute towards a sustainable future, all while being rewarded.

The concept of Reverse Vending is not entirely new when you look at things from a global perspective, Imagined Earth is the first company to bring this technology to South Africa and exclusively represents Incom Tomra in The Republic of South Africa and surrounding territories.

Launched in 2015, Imagined Earth is a forward-thinking green tech and recycling business that allows you to earn money and rewards for your recycling. By simply recycling, you can earn money by returning your packaging waste using the Reverse Vending Machines (RVMs).

The Imagined Earth platform blends intelligent packaging recovery with a digital interface. Using advanced recognition technology to identify the waste that is being deposited, Imagined Earth can instantaneously identify, educated and reward users.

The RVMs have been programmed to accept commonly used products that can be recycled in South Africa, and recognise these products by their barcodes. Should the machine not recognise a barcode, it will be returned. Consumers are asked to then discard the product in the waste collection bins next to the machines. The Imagined Earth team sort through these products and if they are found to be recyclable, the machines will be programmed to accept the new barcode in the future. The consumer who tried to recycle the product will then be notified of this fact via SMS.

“We are living in an era of convenience and circular thinking. Imagined Earth, in partnership with business, provides a highly effective recovery tool that empowers people to live sustainably in these modern times,” says Justin Needham, General Manager of Imagined Earth.

The recyclable rand value of your products is allocated into your Imagined Earth Wallet, a first of its kind digital wallet in Africa. The more you recycle the higher the value of your wallet. Imagined Earth will soon launch the ability to buy airtime through their mobile app and is working with various loyalty rewards partners with some exciting developments to be released later in the year.

Here’s how you can start your Imagined Earth journey.

  1. Head over to the Imagined Earth Website (
  2. Download the app from your favourite app store (IOS and Google Play)
  3. Use the app to search RVM locations near you
  4. Visit your closest location
  5. Take a pic of recycling experience and tag Imagined Earth on your favourite social media platform
  6. Make recycling a habit and get rewarded for it.

Imagined Earth is proud to have partnered with Pick n Pay with the introduction and roll out of reverse vending technology and are excited to see how this leading retailer is providing shoppers with the ability to return their recyclable waste for reward.

Most recently, and significantly, Pick n Pay was announced as a founding signatory of the SA Plastics Pact.

Pick n Pay will significantly reduce the impact of single-use plastic and packaging by 2025. Since 2018, the retailer has successfully implemented a number of initiatives to reduce packaging and single-use plastic at its stores and throughout its supply chain.

Their ambitious 2025 targets will intensify their efforts:

  • 100% of Pick n Pay packaging will be reusable or recyclable
  • 100% of cardboard and paper used for Pick n Pay packaging will responsibility sourced
  • 30% average recycled content across all Pick n Pay packaging
  • 30% reduction in average packaging weight of Pick n Pay branded products [FY2018 baseline]
  • 30% increase in sales of reusable bags, [FY2019 baseline]

By 2023, all Pick n Pay-branded products will feature the new on-pack recycling label to help customers understand how best to recycle their packaging.

The current Pick n Pay stores that have reverse vending machines.

  • Pick n Pay on Nicol, Johannesburg
  • Pick n Pay Constantia Village, Cape Town
  • Pick n Pay Camps Bay, Cape Town
  • Pick n Pay V&A Water Front, Cape Town
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So you hear about it all the time, but do you fully understand what a circular economy is? @ellenmacarthurfoundation says "Today's linear economy is a straight line, no matter how efficient you are. If you make a car with less materials, if you make a car using less energy, you're still using stuff, you're still consuming materials. Whereas within a circular model, from the outset you design in a way whereby that product comes back into the system: the components are recovered, the materials are recovered". In a linear world – everything we use becomes waste, in a circular economy everything is reused, reduced or recycled and there is zero waste – Imagine an earth like that! ♻️ #IsThisHowYouImagineEarth

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