TOMRA R1 reverse vending machines now allow European consumers to return over 100 drink containers at a time
Recyclers in Germany and Denmark can now pour over 100 empty beverage containers into a reverse vending machine in one go, rather than inserting them one by one, with the launch of the TOMRA R1 by global reverse vending leader TOMRA.
The "multi-feed" TOMRA R1 reverse vending machine goes live at the ABC Lavpris supermarket in the city of Tarm in Denmark, and in the Edeka Massak store in Kronach, Germany. Germany's deposit return system for recycling empty drink containers achieves a 98 percent return rate for eligible containers, the highest in the world. Denmark is also a high achiever with a return rate of 92 percent.
In the Netherlands, the first publicly-available TOMRA R1 will go live at TOMRA's office in Apeldoorn for a special charity initiative. For every drink can returned for recycling, TOMRA will donate five Euro cents to raise money for vital medical equipment for the local community. In addition to a good cause, it also prepares for the introduction of cans to the Netherlands' deposit return system at the end of 2022.
TOMRA's roll-out of the R1 has so far included Norway, Sweden, Estonia and Finland, as well as redemption centers in the United States.
How multi-feed returns are changing the face of container recycling
As TOMRA R1 approaches two years since its debut, TOMRA wanted to understand the impact that multi-feed reverse vending has on consumer recycling attitudes and shopping behaviour. An independent research agency conducted in-store interviews with consumers, store owners/managers, and staff responsible for recycling stations in nine stores across three markets: Norway, Sweden and Finland. In all three regions, automated return points for drink containers are often located in supermarkets, where deposit refunds can be used as in-store credit.
Consumers were then interviewed while using TOMRA's multi-feed reverse vending machine. A clear 100 percent of respondents stated that they preferred multi-feed return of containers over single-feed returns (that is, inserting containers one by one). Consumer reasoning for this preference included time savings, ease of use, less physical effort, higher capacity, better hygiene and a cleaner in-store recycling area due to fewer spills. Respondents also had high trust that their refund is correctly calculated, rating this 4.5 out of 5 on average. Because of the large container volumes they returned and higher deposit refund, almost all respondents said they would spend their refund in store.
How recycling impacts shopping
As well as impacting recycling habits, multi-feed returns of beverage containers also impacts how and where recyclers shop. More than 70 percent of respondents said they had chosen to shop at that specific store that day because they would also be recycling there. Around 45 percent of multi-feed users in Norway said that they spend more money in store than planned when they also in-store credit from recycling to use. Up to 60 percent of participants said they shop more often at that particular store, because of being able to use the multi-feed reverse vending machine while there.
Stores offering such reverse vending machines were perceived by consumers as being more innovative. They believed that by installing the machine, the store makes it easier for consumers to recycle, and saw this as providing better service and a benefit for the environment. 61 percent of consumers rated the installation of TOMRA R1 as either the most important improvement or an above-average improvement for the store.
Among retailers interviewed, a full 100 percent stated that their main reasons for installing TOMRA R1 were to be innovative and stay "ahead of the game", as well as create word-of-mouth, drive traffic to the store and generate more business. Prior to the installation, some store managers reported they had had issues with queues for recycling, which was also a key driver to offer multi-feed returns instead and increase their capacity. Some stores expressed that they had a specific objective to be the best in their region at recycling, with many achieving that goal after a significant increase in return volumes. One supermarket in Norway collected 1.2 million containers within 10 weeks of opening its TOMRA R1 - as many as the store had collected in the entire previous year.
"When we launched TOMRA R1, we predicted that the multi-feed concept would fundamentally transform the recycling experience," said Jonas Døvik, Product Manager for TOMRA R1. "We are excited to see that this extends beyond the simple act of pouring out containers, to how consumers choose where they will recycle, how they spend their deposit refunds, and how they perceive stores and return locations. We look forward to bringing this new recycling experience to Denmark and Germany, and to TOMRA R1 helping support charity initiatives in the Netherlands."