TOMRA R1 makes reverse vending five times faster
Watch the video: recyclers can now empty an entire bag of drink containers in seconds, rather than one by one
Global reverse vending specialist TOMRA has unveiled the highly-anticipated TOMRA R1, which lets recyclers in regions with container deposit schemes empty over 100 used beverage containers in one go - rather than inserting one by one.
"With alarming growth worldwide in plastic pollution and greater awareness of the problem, we wanted to make the recycling experience as convenient and enjoyable as possible," explained Harald Henriksen, Head of TOMRA Collection Solutions. "If more people are motivated to return their drink containers for recycling, more can be turned into new bottles again and again in a closed loop, reducing reliance on raw materials for producing new containers. The multi-feed concept transforms the recycling experience."
According to TOMRA, when returning more than 100 beverage containers, recycling at TOMRA R1 is up to five times faster than at a single-feed machine, as containers do not need to be put in one at a time. By making recycling faster and more convenient, the new solution reduces queuing and wait times. TOMRA R1 is also intuitive to use and provides a mess-free recycling experience where users don't need to handle each container. That way, citizens can do their part for the planet without stickiness and fuss.
TOMRA R1 is now available in Norway and Sweden, and rolling out to redemption centres in the US. Germany and other regions will follow in the months ahead.
How does it work?
Users simply open the hatch and pour empty cans and plastic bottles into the machine. The next step is to close the lid to allow the machine to begin the counting and sorting process, and then users can collect the deposit refund voucher.
"The machine is totally fantastic! Customers love it, and we definitely have customers coming to the store because of it," explained Fredrik Hallenstvedt, Store Manager at Meny Borreveien in Norway, one of the testing locations for TOMRA R1. "Since installing the machine we have experienced over 200% growth in the volume of containers compared to the year before."
Technology drives recycling innovation
This new machine re-thinks industrial technology for the end user. TOMRA R1 has been in intense research and development since 2015, with several prototypes tested in stores, which are often the location for recycling return points. The technology stands on the shoulders of TOMRA's industrial-grade equipment for counting and sorting containers, using a "singulator" to line the containers up in single file for recognition. However, the new machine required a different technical approach in order to be used by a consumer rather than a trained operator, and for fitting compactly into a retail setting.
TOMRA R1 also needed to handle a more rapid pace of returns than possible with previous reverse vending machines, so is equipped with air sorters rather than mechanical sorting. The new solution is equipped with the world-first instant container recognition system TOMRA Flow Technology, and connects to TOMRA's Internet of Things platform.
As seen in field tests with retailers and recyclers in Norway and Sweden since 2016, consumer response to TOMRA R1 has been enormous. Test stores showed an up to 60% increase in the number of consumer recycling sessions compared to the year before, and up to 218% more containers returned. A demonstration video uploaded to social media by one of the test stores has now been viewed over 425,000 times.
"The multi-feed approach has truly wowed recyclers," added Harald Henriksen from TOMRA Collection Solutions. "During our tests, people drove past other stores in order to use TOMRA R1, arrived with trailers full of containers, and even turned up with only a small number of containers, just because they preferred to use TOMRA R1."
As well as being handy for recyclers with an overflowing pile of containers at home, TOMRA R1 is well suited for workplaces returning large volumes of bottles and cans, and for charities and community groups collecting deposit containers for fundraising.
Traditionally, waste management companies have operated using a simple "management of waste" approach to operating a MRF. Throughput targets and continuous operation (minimal downtime) were the main driving forces. The industry has changed however, and the focus moving forward is now on optimizing system performance and reliability, in conjunction with increasing recycling rates and a drive for a "greener" and more sustainable tomorrow.
When considering the addition of, or upgrade to, an "intelligent" MRF, for municipalities or private operators, the main factors should always be the client's (operator) current requirements, and evolving market needs, which include throughput, reliability, output quality, and adaptability. Equally important is a full understanding of what is really expected from any proposed system. Having an engaged and focused mindset for the project with the client from the beginning, will impact and drive the entire design process. This then impacts the overall project result, through to the productive, efficient, ongoing operation of the facility itself.