TOMRA Piloting Grocery Recycling Loyalty Program

TOMRA Systems, Shelton, Connecticut, focused on beverage container recycling, has launched a pilot loyalty program in Michigan supermarkets. At the stores, consumers who bring their empty bottles and cans can deposit them in a redeem machine—also called a “reverse vending” machine, or RVM—and register to earn rewards.

The program, called “TOMRA Makes Change,” encourages shoppers to turn in their empties to earn rewards, such as gift cards or tech accessories, or donate their points to various national nonprofit organizations. Local stores can even set up TOMRA Makes Change programs to benefit their high school marching band, scout troops, sports teams or food bank.

The consumer brings his or her empty containers to the RVM and uses the touch screen to register an email address. Once registered, he or she inserts used bottles and cans into the machine, which accepts up to 60 bottles per minute. The machine registers the deposit and allocates points to the person’s rewards account. Later, the consumer can access his or her rewards account via the TOMRA ReAct mobile or web app to track points earned as well as overall recycling impact.

“TOMRA Makes Change is a fantastic way for supermarkets to attract consumers and increase foot traffic in their stores. It is also a high-profile opportunity for supermarkets to position themselves as national leaders in store-based recycling initiatives,” said Ryan Drake-Lee, director of strategy and commercial software at TOMRA.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, beverage containers make up about 5.5 percent of the waste stream by weight but, when measured by greenhouse gases, beverage containers make up about 20 percent of the waste stream—even with transport costs factored in.

“This program unifies the financial, social and environmental reasons to redeem containers, giving consumers a way to turn small change into big change,” added Drake-Lee.

About The Author

A veteran 20-year editor of The Griffin Report who often tours various supermarkets to check out the latest trends. When he isn’t writing, he enjoys sports, his family and young, energetic grandchild.