Reverse Vending Machines: Can They Help Recycling?

January 15, 2021   |   Blog

We’re all familiar with a vending machine. But many Americans are unfamiliar with reverse vending machines. The concept is exactly what it sounds like: Rather than getting a bottled beverage from the vending machine, a reverse recycling machine accepts empty plastic bottles. When a consumers return a bottle, they receive a refund or the container deposit back. These machines are used around the world to collect and sort recyclables, while providing economic incentives to consumers where container deposit laws exist. Yet, reverse vending machines aren’t very common in the U.S. Only ten states having container deposit laws.

However, regulation and laws aren’t needed for these machines to be successful in all 50 states. The solution? Beverage companies creating an incentive. Rather than giving consumers cash, they can provide users a coupon for a discount on their next beverage, for example.

TOMRA Collection Solutions, a leading company in reverse vending, launched a fully automated, “multi-feed” machines that allow for recyclers to empty over 100 bottles and cans in seconds. This saves Americans from having to wait in line as others insert one bottle at a time into a machine. TOMRA machines also have the ability to send container deposits via a traditional voucher or instantly with a digital voucher. The company also provides recyclers with the option to donate their deposit refund to charity. According to QY Research, the reverse vending machine market is expected to reach $685.1 million by the end of 2025, up from $343.6 million in 2018.

There’s no denying the importance of increasing our recycling rate in the U.S. We all have a responsibility to protect our environment and keep recyclable waste out of landfills. Reverse vending machines provide a quick, efficient, and rewarding way to dispose of hundreds of containers at a time. It’s time to make reverse vending available to all Americans. How much will they help? Time will tell.