Tomra introduces smart reverse vending machines

Tomra Connect offers customer rewards, community involvement and analytics.

Tomra, a global provider of reverse vending machines (RVMs) and sensor-based sorting equipment with U.S. headquarters in Shelton, Connecticut, has introduced smart RVMs through its Tomra Connect digital product platform.

The Tomra Connect RVMs offer customer rewards, community involvement and analytics that previously were not available to users, the company says. 

Tomra says the portfolio of digital products by Tomra Collection Solutions Digital brings new insights and engagement opportunities, both for the locations providing the RVMs and for the people who recycle with them. Tomra Collection Solutions Digital, which began as an intrapreneurship project in 2014 and is a part of Tomra, develops, innovates and monetizes digital products and solutions to complement and extend the value of RVM usage and ownership, the company says on its website

Tomra says its approach also is personalizing the recycling experience for millions of people around the world, in turn increasing recycling involvement, ramping up profits for stores and helping the environment.

“Tomra Connect opens up new possibilities for extending the recycling experience and getting to know recyclers,” says Aleksander Mortensen, head of Tomra Collection Solutions Digital. “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.”

Tomra has more than 75,000 installations in more than 40 markets, often where a deposit is refunded when consumers return their used beverage containers (UBCs). The RVMs identify the can or bottle, give the appropriate refund and can compact the containers for easier transportation.

RVMs with Tomra Connect offer:

  • Points programs. With engagement program Tomra Makes Change, also known as ReAct, consumers can earn points and redeem them for rewards or charitable donations, and share their recycling activity to social media. ReAct has tens of thousands of users in the U.S., 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 also can print coupons on refund receipts.
  • Notifications. Smartphone app Notify + Assist pushes real-time notifications to personnel when machines require attention (such as for 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 (for the purpose of helping sites providing the machines, typically retailers, to plan ahead for busy periods) and other data.
  • Anti-fraud. Tomra Connect combats fraud attempts (like someone trying to redeem the same deposit amount twice) through real-time validation and devaluation of refund receipts.

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, as well as 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.

Consumers deliver 35 billion UBCs every year to Tomra machines. The company says this reduces reliance on raw materials to produce new containers and ensures that fewer end up in landfills, oceans and streets. All containers redeemed through Tomra RVMs are recycled.

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Tomra is part of the Tomra Group, Tomra Systems ASA, which is based in Norway. Founded in 1972, the company designs, manufactures and sells RVMs for automated collection of UBCs. Tomra has two main business areas: Collection Solutions (reverse vending, material recovery and compaction) and Sorting Solutions (recycling, mining and food sorting).

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