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Reverse vending machines: collecting drink containers for recycling

TOMRA is the global leader in reverse vending, with approximately 80,000 machines installed across the world. Find out more about reverse vending and the deposit return scheme.

Reverse Vending 

TOMRA’s world-leading reverse vending solutions breathe new life into used drinks containers. By keeping materials away from contaminants, the machines ensure a container can maintain its food-grade status and be turned back into another container, avoiding ‘downcycling’ and minimising waste and resources.

With over 80,000 machines installed across more than 60 markets, TOMRA is the global leader in reverse vending.


What is reverse vending? 

Reverse vending is the more sustainable way to recycle. Through deposit return, it rewards consumers who bring their containers back – therefore giving value to a material that may otherwise be littered or sent to landfill. 


How does reverse vending work? 

Innovation, efficiency and sustainability is at the heart of the reverse vending process.
How it works from a consumer’s perspective is simple: 
1. The consumer buys a drinks container and pays a deposit
2. The consumer enjoys the beverage
3. The consumer returns the container to a reverse vending machine and gets the deposit back



Why reverse vending? 

More than 1.4 trillion drinks containers are produced every year. TOMRA is the largest player in the reverse vending market, collecting 40 billion containers annually across more than 60 markets. This is a huge number, but is only 2.5% of the total sum, presenting a massive opportunity for businesses to make a positive contribution to the environment.

Proper handling of used packaging conserves precious resources like energy, water and crude oil – while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Deposit return schemes mean users get an instant reward for returning a used container to an RVM and this element of incentivising recycling has boosted collection rates worldwide. 

Reverse vending doesn’t limit use – it limits waste. Using recycled materials to create new products requires significantly less energy than producing new products from scratch. Across the world, TOMRA reverse vending machines have made recycling more convenient, efficient and profitable for everyone involved.


Rewarding recycling 

Through deposit return, reverse vending rewards consumers for recycling – encouraging them to make better choices in terms of discarding their single-use plastics and promoting a sustainable circular economy. 

Reverse vending machines can be installed at a defined collection point – not only to provide a recycling facility for customers, but also as a tool for sales promotions, branding and corporate social responsibility.
From money-off coupons to product promotions, consumers can be encouraged to incorporate a trip to their local reverse vending machine into their weekly routine.
Alternatively, the deposit can be donated directly to a charity from the machine. 




Find out more about how a Deposit Return Scheme works.

Read about the technology behind TOMRA reverse vending machines.