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Vending machine in southwest Japan sells drinks for as little as 10 yen to prevent waste

The vending machine that sells cheap drinks to prevent waste is seen in the Sanmyo district of Kunitomi, Miyazaki Prefecture, on Oct. 5, 2021. (Mainichi/Shunsuke Ichimiya)

KUNITOMI, Miyazaki -- A vending machine in this southwest Japan town is selling random drinks that had remained unsold or whose containers are dented for as cheap as 10 yen (about $0.09) to prevent waste.

    The machine along Miyazaki prefectural road No. 24 was installed by Kunitomi-based firm Daikichi Co., which operates some 2,000 vending machines in the prefecture. The company said that many drinks purchased in bulk had sometimes remained unsold because of factors including bad weather. The firm had previously sold them to its employees at cheap prices or asked a disposal operator to discard them.

    But because it was "a waste to throw them away despite being drinkable," President Michinori Kawagoe, 43, installed the vending machine for such products in spring 2019. Paying attention to the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Kawagoe named it the "SDGs promoting vending machine."

    The machine sells canned or plastic-bottled beverages such as juice, coffee and isotonic drinks for between 10 yen (about $0.09) and 100 yen (roughly $0.90) each. It also displays a panel explaining the difference between a "best before date" and an "expiration date."

    Because the electricity to operate the machine costs some 2,000 yen (approximately $18) per month, the service is running at an overall loss. But Kawagoe said: "There has been almost no waste since introducing this vending machine. I hope people will take even a little more interest in the issue of food waste through this machine."

    (Japanese original by Shunsuke Ichimiya, Miyazaki Bureau)

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