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Buy a beer and tap away your carbon

15 April 2021 at 8:10 am
Maggie Coggan
“It’s about creating a place within our living environments where you can remove carbon from the air at the same time as buying your coffee”

Maggie Coggan | 15 April 2021 at 8:10 am


Buy a beer and tap away your carbon
15 April 2021 at 8:10 am

“It’s about creating a place within our living environments where you can remove carbon from the air at the same time as buying your coffee”

Tap and go technology has become a normal (and convenient) part of our lives, helping us quickly purchase coffee, groceries, or a round of after-work drinks. But now, a new project is using the same technology to help save the planet. 

Launched earlier this month, Carbon Bins has set up tap and go points or “bins” where shoppers can make a donation that goes towards buying a carbon credit. The aim is to help tackle the climate crisis by creating places to “throw carbon in the bin”, the same way you would a piece of physical rubbish.

Carbon Bins president, Dr Tim Willis, told Pro Bono News that while there were systems in place for dealing with rubbish, recycling, and sewage, there wasn’t the same option for carbon emissions. 

“Carbon pollution is what’s heating the planet and driving climate change. It’s the thing that we need to get rid of,” Willis said. 

“So what we’re trying to do is develop a system that disposes of that carbon waste by creating points of collection, like a rubbish bin.” 

Using tap-and-go stations set up inside cafes, bakeries and pubs, the organisation collects donations to purchase Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) at cost from Australian based supplier, CO2 Australia.   

A single tap donates $2 to Carbon Bins, which amounts to removing 94 kg of carbon pollution from our atmosphere.  

“So if you tap your card eight times, this means you’ve removed an entire tonne of carbon pollution,” Willis said. 

Putting the power in the hands of the people 

Willis said that he wanted to focus on purchasing carbon credits because the process of doing so was often difficult and inaccessible for the everyday person. 

“We partnered with CO2 Australia because purchasing carbon credits is incredibly complicated, which is a shame because it does cut everyday people out of the market,” he said. 

According to the Australian government’s Clean Energy Regulator, each unit amounts to the equivalent of one tonne of carbon dioxide stored or avoided by a project. CO2 Australia generates ACCUs in various ways, but the carbon credits purchased by Carbon Bins are sourced from Australian-based afforestation and reforestation projects. 

While ACCUs can be traded on carbon markets, the credits purchased by Carbon Bins are retired, which means they can no longer be traded on the market. This reduces the number of credits in carbon markets and forces the demand for them upward. To satisfy this demand, ACCU suppliers plant more trees. 

Willis said that at the moment, the majority of players in the carbon offsetting market were business and government, but that there was potential to create a new area of demand from individuals. 

“There are a lot of businesses that use carbon offsetting for greenwashing purposes,” he said.  

“We want to create a big pool of demand to make this supply of carbon credits limited so that these offset providers have to plant more trees, and in doing so we can push out that greenwashing.

“So often people will say, one person can’t do anything. But what we’re trying to do is to pull the collective power of individuals to create change.”   

Carbon Bins are in the midst of pooling funds to purchase ACCU’s in July, which Willis said was looking incredibly positive. 

“Already we’re looking to be able to purchase about 20 credits with the donations we’ve received, which is about 20 tonnes of carbon already out of the air,” he said. 

As of Friday, Carbon Bin stations will be across three locations in Melbourne’s inner north, and the organisation is looking to develop and install QR codes in venues as a donation method as well.  

“Someone took a photo of the device and posted it on Facebook, 24 hours after the device was installed. I then got a call from a bar in Fitzroy asking if they could have one, which is really exciting,” he said. 

“It’s about creating a place within our living environments where you can remove carbon from the air at the same time as buying your coffee, which I think is pretty unique.” 

To find out more about Carbon Bins, check out their website here. 

Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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