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TOMRA REACHES 40 BILLION MILESTONE

Record return rates for resource sustainability company TOMRA

10 April 2019

TOMRA Collection Solutions 40 billion used beverage containers collected

TOMRA have confirmed that their 82,000 reverse vending machines (RVMs) worldwide have received a record-breaking 40 billion containers back for recycling in the past year. Head of TOMRA Collection Solutions Harald Henriksen says the company and its customers have “40 billion reasons to be extremely proud”.

“We have been waiting to hit the 40 billion mark and we feel an enormous sense of achievement having reached this milestone. Of course, this is a joint effort and we couldn’t have done this without our customers and the hundreds of thousands of recyclers in over 60 markets, who have delivered their beverage containers back to TOMRA reverse vending machines for recycling.”

For every beverage container that is recycled and reused, there is a CO2 emission avoidance when compared to manufacturing bottles from virgin material. 40 billion bottles have a potential CO2 saving of up to 3 million tons. To put this into context, that is the equivalent of:

  • 394 billion smartphones charged
  • 12.2 billion kilometers driven by an average passenger vehicle
  • 51 million tree seedlings grown for 10 years
  • 1.1 billion liters of oil saved

“With a million plastic bottles sold every minute, we are making it our mission to stop them reaching our oceans, streets and landfills,” says Henriksen.

“The growing number of countries that are establishing container deposit schemes, as well passing legislation to use more recycled material, proves that the world is waking up to the plastic pollution problem. With 8 million tons of plastic waste is ending up in our oceans every year, this legislation cannot come any sooner.”

While many are campaigning to do away with plastic altogether, TOMRA is fighting to overcome the surge in marine pollution by getting the planet to reuse the plastic we already have, reducing the need for virgin plastic and ensuring as little as possible ends up where it doesn’t belong – in nature or in landfill.

When a bottle is returned to a reverse vending machine for recycling, the material is protected from contamination from other types of household waste, such as food waste or types of plastic that cannot be used for bottles. In a circular economy, the principle of ‘waste’ is abandoned and everything is a resource – and one key enabler is to maintain the quality of materials we consume.

A bottle returned at an RVM maintains its food-grade status and can be turned back into another plastic bottle in a never-ending 'closed loop'; it does not get downcycled or thrown away and we don’t need fresh resources to make a new one – a double good deed. TOMRA call this process ‘Clean Loop Recycling’ and is campaigning for as many beverage containers to be kept in the Loop as possible.

“Whilst reaching the 40 billion mark is a huge achievement, there is still a long way to go. This number only represents 2.5% of global beverage packaging sold; this number has to improve to meet future material demand and to keep used containers from ending up where they don’t belong,” Henriksen concludes.

The unchecked use of the Earth’s resources has had undeniable consequences on the planet, but TOMRA is showing that it’s not too late to make a difference, one bottle at a time.