Starting in a small shed in Asker, Norway, the brothers Petter and Tore Planke created a solution to a problem: a local grocer wanted an automated machine that could quickly and easily take back used, empty bottles for recycling, and so TOMRA was born. By the end of 1972, TOMRA had installed 29 machines in Norway, and their successes quickly began to generate interest abroad.
Since those humble beginnings, TOMRA has diversified its offering and expanded its reach. During the first 30 years of its history, the company focused on growing its reverse vending business in markets with deposit systems for beverage packaging. In 2000, the company began developing a more comprehensive business platform, and through a number of strategic acquisitions during the past two decades, TOMRA has become a leading provider of optical sorting technology for a broad range of materials.
Almost 45 years later, TOMRA in 2016 noted record revenues of approximately €710m, with 90,000 systems installed in over 80 markets worldwide.
TOMRA’s sensor-based solutions are used today in reverse vending, recycling, mining and food sorting. Recycling applications include numerous waste streams and metals in which optical sorters support plant operators with effective recovery and sorting of valuable secondary resources, while TOMRA’s food sorting and peeling solutions are utilized to boost food processing capacity, quality, safety, yield and profit.
The company’s mining equipment ensures more efficient recovery of minerals and ores, and in 2015 located the Lucara Diamond in Botswana, the second-largest gem quality diamond in history. All told, TOMRA technology is playing a leading role in helping diverse industries attain efficient business processes, improve resource utilization and promote a better environment.
Stefan Ranstrand, TOMRA President and CEO, said: “Our growth and longevity is due in part to the growing understanding that the world needs to utilize its natural resources in a better way to ensure sustainability. We are proud of the success our company has achieved thus far, and look forward to building on this in the years ahead as we continue to develop cutting-edge solutions for helping our customers meet their business needs and contribute to a better and more sustainable future.”
TOMRA at 45: Two strong business areas
In pursuing its mission to create sensor-based solutions for optimal resource productivity, TOMRA has built a robust company centered on two main business areas: Collection Solutions (reverse vending and material recovery) and Sorting Solutions (recycling, mining and food sorting).
To ensure new technology continues to support businesses and their objectives, it is important to continue focusing on how to transform the way in which the world obtains, uses and reuses its resources by looking at the next major innovations and how they can support environmental as well as business objectives.
Optimal resource productivity
“Global resources are under more pressure than ever before,” continues Ranstrand. “A growing population - and increasing consumption - mean finite resources are being used at an unsustainable pace. The world is consuming more resources and producing more waste than nature can replace or absorb each year. Now, more so than ever, the world needs a resource revolution.”
“TOMRA aspires to be a leader in the resource revolution by constantly exploring and enabling new means of optimizing resource productivity. In this way, TOMRA’s sensor-based technology is playing a pivotal role in supporting the circular economy and also helping organizations to increase productivity without having a detrimental impact on the environment.”