Swedish firm eyeing S’pore base to deploy ‘reverse vending machines’ for bottle recycling

SINGAPORE – A Swedish firm that manufactures vending machines that settle for used bottles and cans is planning to arrange a base in Singapore by the third quarter of this yr to assist the nation’s upcoming return scheme for beverage containers.

The firm, RVM Systems, plans to set up a variety of its “reverse” vending machines, together with these that may guzzle up 100 containers at a time.

It already has about 50 such machines right here, rolled out by the National Environment Agency (NEA) and F&N Foods since 2019. Those machines, which might take up to 800 drink containers a day, dispense purchasing rewards and ActiveSG credit, amongst different incentives.

To date, greater than 10 million bottles and cans have been collected by the machines, which have been put in at locations together with colleges, enterprise parks and malls.

An analogous Norwegian firm, Tomra, additionally launched a centre in Singapore final month, and can also be planning to roll out reverse vending machines right here. Visitors can deposit bottles into some machines on the centre to find out how they work.

This comes amid a renewed nationwide push lately to get folks to recycle extra – and accurately – in Singapore. The home recycling charge in 2020 and 2021 plummeted to a 10-year-low of 13 per cent.

Singapore is within the midst of growing a return coverage for beverage containers, the place a deposit is included of their worth. A shopper receives a refund when the used bottles and cans are returned.

In a Facebook publish on April 12, Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Amy Khor mentioned NEA is shaping up key elements of the scheme, such because the forms of drink containers to embrace and the return factors. The purpose is to develop an acceptable and cost-effective scheme.

RVM Systems has bought its machines to greater than 35 markets globally, largely to assist related return schemes, mentioned Mr Ulf Wennblom, the corporate’s space supervisor for the Asia-Pacific.

For Singapore’s return scheme, he urged that the deposit positioned on every bottle and might ought to be between 10 and 25 cents, relying on the dimensions of the containers.

“It is advisable to set the deposits higher than the market price of beverage containers, and it is better to start low and increase deposits later if needed, to increase collection,” he mentioned.

Overseas, the deposit quantities are set by the federal government.

Mr Wennblom added that the deposit and worth of a drink ought to be said individually on a price ticket, to present clients that they’re assured to obtain the refund, so long as they return the bottle for recycling.

If deposits are set too excessive, clients might be postpone, affecting the beverage’s sale, he added.

Collecting drink containers in reverse vending machines will keep the worth of the fabric and permit them to be recycled into related containers, whereas these dumped with different recyclables could be simply contaminated, ending up as lower-quality supplies corresponding to landfill cowl.

On high of getting the deposit proper, the areas of return factors matter, for comfort.

Mr Wennblom mentioned most machines in different international locations are positioned in shops and supermarkets, since this suits buyers’ routines.

He famous that Singapore could be the primary nation in Asia to have a return scheme for beverage containers.

Such return schemes – universally generally known as deposit refund schemes – originated within the Nordic area, the place recycling used bottles and cans have grow to be a part of the residents’ every day routine. Reverse vending machines are ubiquitous there.

Under such a scheme, there are usually extra handbook return factors than reverse vending machines, however the machines acquire greater than 90 per cent of the empty bottles and cans, because the machines can flatten and kind the containers.

Norway began its scheme within the Nineteen Nineties, and now has a return charge of 95 per cent.

Deposit refund schemes are partially financed by the producers and importers of drink containers.

To maintain the return scheme cost-effective with out sacrificing container assortment numbers, Mr Wennblom mentioned the vending machines ought to be designed to be space-efficient.

The scheme must also function in an open market for reverse vending machine suppliers, as that may nurture innovation, he added.

Mr Eshton Chua, 27, who recycles recurrently however has not used a reverse vending machine earlier than, mentioned the machines is also deployed at each few blocks of flats and alongside routes most frequented by residents.

“More Singaporeans should realise that recycling is a step that should be as routine as taking out trash daily,” mentioned Mr Chua, who runs a sustainable vogue enterprise.

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