A Case of Going Full Circle In A Bid To Save The Planet

    It’s a simple but ambitious idea: what if we can design waste out of our economic system, reusing certain materials far more times – even endlessly – to help reduce the strain on our planet’s finite resources? The concept is known as the circular economy, and in recent years it’s gone mainstream, thanks in part to the introduction of container deposit schemes by Australian states and territories.

    “The circular economy contributes to better business, a better environment and a better world,” Markus Fraval says. “It’s simple: it’s about utilising the finite resources we have in the best way possible.”

    Read the full article as published in The Age.

    Are Drink Containers Actually Recycled?

    Yes! All drink containers that go through a CDS must be recycled and it is often written into legislation to ensure this. In addition, due to the improved separation of material types, it often becomes easier to recycle collected material.

    What is Clean Loop Recycling?

    Clean Loop Recycling is the process that ensures certain products are collected, recycled and repurposed into the same product, once its initial use is no longer required.

    When it comes to beverage containers Clean Loop Recycling ensures that valuable materials, such as plastic, aluminium and glass, are continually recycled back into bottles and cans, rather than being landfilled, littered or ‘downcycled’ into lower quality materials. This way of reimagining recycling is best implemented through reverse vending machines, which see drink containers returned through a Container Deposit Scheme. More than 40 markets worldwide have already adopted container deposit schemes, including SA, NT, NSW, QLD and soon to be WA. VIC are beginning a Scheme in 2023 and Tasmania in 2022.

    What is a Reverse Vending Machine?

    Reverse vending machines provide an automated method for collecting, sorting and handling the return of used beverage containers for recycling or reuse. During the 45 years these systems have been utilized, they have proven to be an unmatched success for consumers, businesses and the environment.

    Reverse vending machines are the centerpiece of modern container deposit schemes that for years have demonstrated return rates from 70% to almost 100% of sold beverage containers.

    No other waste or collection system comes close to matching these figures. Automated reverse vending machines for container deposit schemes prove their business case with a very low cost per collected container.

    How Quick is a Reverse Vending Machine?

    TOMRA’s state-of-the art technology can process up to 100 eligible containers per minute. Our technology can scan the barcode, identify the material type and ensure a container is empty within seconds to confirm it is eligible to provide a customer a 10c refund.

    What makes a successful container deposit scheme?

    There are two key factors that determine the success of a Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) and drive the overall container recycling rate:

    • Deposit Value
    • Convenience

    Currently, at 10c, Australia’s deposit value is one of the lowest in the world. Which means that CONVENIENCE is absolutely critical for a a successful CDS.

    The way that this convenience is delivered internationally is through what’s called a Back to Retail model – whereby any retailer that sells a beverage is required by law to offer a recycling return point for that beverage – physically inside or next to their store.In the absence of the same legislation requiring retailers to host a return point in their store – the solution in NSW for Return & Earn was to locate RVM’s as close to the retail store as possible – mostly in shopping centre car parks.

    Who is TOMRA?

    Founded in 1972, TOMRA is the preferred partner for reverse vending solutions for collecting, reusing and recycling cans and bottles. The TOMRA system has the machines, digital solutions and service to make recycling easy for the industry, system owners, retailers and consumers. With over 82,000 installations across more than 60 markets, TOMRA’s reverse vending machines capture OVER 40 billion used beverage containers every year – reducing reliance on raw materials and ensuring fewer containers end up in landfills, oceans and streets.

    Is a CDS the same as your Yellow Recycling Bin?

    No. While traditional recycling methods, such as kerbside recycling, strive to reuse as much material as possible, the materials often become contaminated or can be degraded as the process wears on, with many components only recyclable once, and usually as a lower value product with a single lifespan – a process known as downcycling. Upcycling, on the other hand, happens when materials are recycled many times at the same quality and value, or sometimes, as with glass, infinitely.

    Applying the circular economy approach to drinks is straightforward: the consumer buys a can or bottle of drink then returns it to a reverse vending machine. The old containers are then used to make new containers, which are filled and sent to stores to be bought and then returned once more. It’s all about creating a sustainable, closed-loop, where everything that’s produced gets recycled and then reused again and again, dramatically reducing CO2 emissions, resources for production and waste ending up in streets, oceans, and landfills.

    The material from drink containers is no longer waste, it becomes a resource. This process helps put a value on the material. Think of it as buying the drink and borrowing the container.

    How do you fool a Reverse Vending Machine?

    YOU CAN’T! With over 40 years’ experience, the TOMRA Flow Technology is the world’s first 360° recognition system in RVMs. A connected system of cameras and sensors scans each recycled container so rapidly that the objects require no rotation, so the user can insert containers in a faster, continuous flow. However, TOMRA’s approach goes beyond the basics of 360° recognition. Flow Technology’s smart anti-fraud features ensure industry-leading security and accuracy, and help defend the integrity of the recycling system.

    How Does a Reverse Vending Machine Work?

    Recycling your empties is as easy as 1-2-3.

    Reverse vending

    1: Insert your empty containers into the chute at the front of the reverse vending machine.

    2: When you’re finished, tap the button at the front of the machine.

    3: Take the receipt that the machine prints out. (In regions with container deposit laws, the receipt shows the value of your recycling refund, which can usually be redeemed at the cash register.)

    Waste Expo 2020

    Want to know more? Markus Fraval will be speaking at the Waste Expo 2020 on Engaging the Public in a Circular Economy.

    In this talk, TOMRA’s Markus Fraval explains how Container Deposit Schemes  (CDS) are the first step in helping people actively participate in creating a more circular economy.  Container Deposit Schemes are already changing the way people think about the circular economy and the importance of reducing pollution and energy use, and of reusing precious resources. 

    Deposit schemes create a high-profile and tangible example of the circular economy in action – closing the loop on widely consumed products by collecting high proportions of used beverage containers, and doing so in a form that allows the materials to be reprocessed in sufficiently high grades to replace virgin materials. This in turn then has positive, upstream flow-on effects by avoiding the economic cost and environmental impacts of virgin material extraction and production stages and the transport in between.

    The talk will touch on how the increasing ability to reprocess used containers back into new bottles and cans reduces society’s environmental footprint in a manner that educates and encourages broader change. “CDS schemes offer an opportunity to show people how the circular economy can work and encourages them to look at other areas of their consumption, thereby breaking down barriers and changing people’s mindsets and behaviours.”