Recycling has become more digital with the launch of TOMRA Connect for reverse vending machines (RVMs), which collect cans and bottles for recycling. The portfolio of digital products by TOMRA Collection Solutions brings new insights and engagement opportunities, both for the locations providing the RVMs and for the people who recycle with them. TOMRA’s unique approach is also personalizing the recycling experience for millions of people around the globe, in turn increasing recycling involvement, ramping up profits for stores and helping the environment.
TOMRA has over 75,000 installations in more than 40 markets, often where a deposit is refunded when consumers return their used beverage containers. The RVMs identify the can or bottle, give the appropriate refund and can even compact the containers for easier transportation.
Recycling gets high-tech
TOMRA Connect goes beyond the bin-approaching-full indicators that have so far popularized smart waste collection.
• Points programs: With engagement program ReAct (branded as TOMRA Makes Change in the US), consumers can earn points and redeem them for rewards or charitable donations, and share their recycling activity to social media. ReAct already has tens of thousands of users in the US, who have earned millions of points. This engagement program can complement deposit refunds, or act as an incentive in markets without deposit legislation.
• Marketing and donation: The machine’s touch-screen turns the system into a marketing touchpoint. Consumers can donate their deposit refund to a local charity, and retailers can promote daily specials or show seasonal campaigns – all administered remotely. Retailers can also print coupons on refund receipts.
• Notifications: Smartphone app Notify + Assist pushes real-time notifications to personnel when machines require attention (like full bins, stops or low printer paper) and gives step-by-step guidance on how to remedy the issue.
• Insights: Analytics pulls business intelligence from big data. It shows queueing time, how well the machine was cleaned, recycling volumes for different times of day (so sites providing the machines, typically retailers, can plan ahead for busy periods) and more.
• Anti-fraud: TOMRA Connect also combats sneaky fraud attempts (like someone trying to redeem the same deposit amount twice) through real-time validation and devaluation of refund receipts.
Consumers deliver 35 billion used beverage containers every year to TOMRA’s machines. This reduces reliance on raw materials to produce new containers and ensures that fewer end up in landfills, oceans and streets. One-hundred percent of containers redeemed through TOMRA RVMs are recycled.
TOMRA Connect is not TOMRA’s first foray into remote communication for its recycling returns machines. In the 1980s, TOMRA used dial-up connectivity to transmit software and databases, plus download log files and statistics. The 1990s saw the implementation of networking and IP. TOMRA Connect represents third-generation connectivity, which moves that infrastructure to the cloud and unites previous local offerings under one umbrella.
“TOMRA Connect opens up new possibilities for extending the recycling experience and getting to know recyclers,” said Aleksander Mortensen, head of TOMRA Collection Solutions Digital, which began as an intrapreneurship project in 2014. “It’s not just cars and fitness devices connecting to the Internet of Things. Just as smartphones made us expect more from our handsets than simply making calls, with smart reverse vending you get much more from the recycling experience.”