Coca Cola Launches Recycling Machine That Does The Sorting For You

Situated outside a Kroger in Arlington, TX, is a new structure that resembles a slimmed down drive-thru restaurant or the world’s longest ATM. It’s actually the first of Coca-Cola’s “Reimagine” recycling machines that allows customers to dump aluminum cans and #1 PET plastic containers in all at the same time.

From Forbes.com:

Unlike other recycling centers where you have to feed items into a machine one by one, self-contained Reimagine units accept bottles and cans in bulk. And like a Coinstar for spent bottles and cans, Reimagine tallies up and rewards you for each item recycled, thanks to a conveyor belt and optical scanner system that also sorts and crushes items. With points racked up through Reimagine, recyclers can donate funds to local schools through the My Coke Rewards Program or enter to win a sweepstakes.

A statement on the Reimagine site says the company is hoping to add more of these units to shopping centers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in the coming months, and that it will look at the data in early 2011 to figure out future plans for expansions.

Would something like this be a good thing for your neighborhood?

Coca-Cola “Reimagines” Recycling [Forbes.com]

Reimagine Beverage Containers [Reimagine Recyling]

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  1. KathleemB says:

    This is normal in Michigan – but we have 10 cents deposit on cans and bottles.

    • balthisar says:

      This is certainly not normal in Michigan. What’s described is a machine that you dump all of your stuff into, and it gets sorted automatically.

      In Michigan, we have to:
      * wait in line between slobs who have garbage bags full of cans and bottles because that’s how they manage their savings accounts.
      * use one machine for glass, another for plastic, and yet another for metal.
      * plug your nose, because stale beer and old pop make the recycling centers smell disgusting.
      * Roll up your sleeves so you don’t get them nastified with your own gunk from your cans and bottles
      * Hope that the hot water works (at good places that have sinks), or that the anti-bacterial gel dispenser isn’t empty (at lesser places), because you’re going to get old can gunk all over your hands. Oh, and some places have neither gel nor sinks, and even the places that do I see people not using them (then they go paw tomatoes and other produce).

      The machines described above, though, might mitigate some of the utter disgust that our Michigan machines have.

      • zifnab0 says:

        This is normal in Iowa, where we have 5 cent deposit on cans and bottles. One machine, dump in everything, and it sorts out the recyclable cans.

        Admittedly, you still have to take your bottles to a separate machine.

      • coffeeculture says:

        haha….pop, sounds so strange to me O_o

      • psm321 says:

        Umm, I’m pretty sure there have been machines that take both cans and bottles for many years now (in MI). The innovation I see here is not having to feed them in one at a time

  2. nybiker says:

    I am guessing that Texas does not have any bottle deposit requirements. If that’s the case, then this looks like a good idea. The technology looks good even for those of us who have the nickel and dime deposits. It always seems that the line at the return machine is for the container type I have to return. This way, you could return cans and bottles in one line. And it does it in bulk, so I do not have to feed the beast for every bottle I have.
    I guess the glass stuff will continue to have its own line (and that’s ok, since I generally don’t buy glass bottle deposit stuff).

  3. Thassodar says:

    Which Kroger, though? I live in Arlington and there are at least 3 or 4 I can think of… One is within walking distance.

  4. Groanan says:

    So how much of this is paid for by Coca-Cola, and how much of it is paid for by Texans?

  5. Brussels says:

    Okay, but how much energy does this thing waste? I don’t see any solar panels. Doesn’t it defeat the reason to recycle? Just separate your cans and bottles

    • moonunitrappa says:

      A lot of suburbs (not sure about Dallas county) already recycle at the home level but these should be good for people in apartments who want to recycle.

      Agreed, it should be solar panel powered, but there would also have to be some engineering put in place to avoid hail because Dallas gets a LOT of hail.

      • Veeber says:

        Columingled recycling is a big deal. The easier you make it the greater the compliance. Sometimes the recycling rules becomes so difficult people throw out recyclable items because they are unsure.

    • outlulz says:

      Recycling defeats the purpose of recycling. It takes a lot of energy (meaning fossil fuels) to get less than you put in, and I doubt there are any solar powered recycling centers.

      • lockdog says:

        This is a myth. The energy savings from recycling an aluminum can are huge compared to smelting aluminum for a new one. Making paper from recycled paper uses around 50% of the energy of producing new paper. Even using recycled glass shows about a 20% energy savings compared to new. This may not be much, but it certainly adds up over time.

        • jessjj347 says:

          Not sure how true that is, but I just want to point out that there are 2 others parts of the phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle” that people seem to forget about. I think that the “reduce” portion is particularly important, since products/clothing/etc are all so cheap now that they are gotten rid of almost immediately.

    • AnthonyC says:

      No, no it doesn’t “defeat the reason.”
      Just because two processes both use energy/water/other resources doesn’t tell you which uses more. This machine may decrease the saved resources from recycling, or that decrease may be insignificant.

      There are also two components to “the point of recycling.” First the the amount saved per bottle recycled. This, as you point out, is something that will probably be reduced, at least slightly, by machine sorting. The second is the fraction of recyclable material that gets recycled. If only 5% of recyclable material gets recycled, then if making it easier to recycle boosts that to 50% but eats up half the resource savings per unit recycled, you still come out way ahead.

  6. jayde_drag0n says:

    I don’t want to earn points, or send my funds elsewhere. I want to get the money back from everything I just recycled! That $5 might be the only money I have…
    Unless you mean I get the money I earned AND I earn points to do that other stuff, THEN I’m okay with it

    • Coles_Law says:

      Texas doesn’t have a bottle deposit, so you’re not losing out on any money.

      • Framling says:

        If I could take those cans to an independent recycler who’s going to give me money based on how much actual metal I bring in, then yeah, I’m losing out on money doing this.

  7. Memtex784 says:

    I like the local recycling effort here in town. They take any plastic, metals, and paper with only a few restrictions. I use to keep cans and cash them in every so often but I don’t have the room to store them.

  8. scoosdad says:

    If this is an unattended standalone device sitting in a shopping center or store parking lot, I predict it will quickly become clogged with unrecyclable materials or any junk that people are looking for a place to get rid of quick.

    Take a look at any donation box in a parking lot– on a weekend it’s filled to overflowing with trash, and the ground in front of it is covered with old tires or unwanted junk furniture that Goodwill or others have to dispose of. Whatever will fit in the bulk input slot on one of these will quickly fill the ‘reject’ bin inside it until it has to shut down to wait for an attendant.

    Put one of these inside a store where it can be supervised somewhat, and it may be more useful.

  9. macruadhi says:

    For those of us who collect cans for a bit of extra money, it would take forever to feed that thing over 30 lbs of cans. Plus I am my own favourite charity.

  10. ash says:

    They have a machine somewhat similar to this sponsored by Pepsi.
    http://greenopolis.com/

  11. FrugalFreak says:

    Does it pay you for the aluminum?

  12. Bitingback says:

    I am EXCITED about this!!! I live in Arlington and can tell you a few reasons why I think this is a good idea.

    There are a lot of Texans that do recycle, but our recycling systems and participation pale in comparison to other places I have lived. Houston, for instance, does not recycle any glass. How crazy is that!?! Bottle deposits don’t exist here and so I see ANYTHING that might motivate people to recycle as a good thing! Kayaking down the Trinity River and seeing all the plastic bottles is a real eye-opening experience.

    No one pays for plastic bottles here, so if you wanted some kind of “credit” for recycling plastic, this seems to be good. The only place I knew of that recycled aluminum that was within 5 miles stopped accepting stuff from the public. If you have to drive to another city to get some kind of compensation, it sort of defeats the purpose of being eco friendly.

    It would be interesting to know if the city is subsidizing any of this pilot project, but I highly doubt it. There are many that criticize the financial efficacy of recycling, but I could see how this could save cities money in the long run. The scenario I have in my head is that if it stops only a few people from littering because they can be rewarded for their trash, the city just saved that money in manpower for litter cleanup.

    I was also rather surprised at the location that was selected (Pioneer Pkwy. & Davis). I would say this area has incomes that are below middle class… but it is near the University of Texas at Arlington which is increasingly becoming very forward thinking in sustainability.

    Tap water and tea are my main beverages of choice so I won’t be racking up a ton of points, but I have been known to pick up cans on the side of the road when I walk my dog. If I think the points to number of items ratio is fair enough vs. cash, I will definitely be using it. There were some decent items in the My Coke Rewards catalog.

  13. Southern says:
  14. HungryGal says:

    We have ‘single stream’ recycling in our town. The recycling company provides every household with a 35 gallon wheeley bin (and if you need a second one, you can have another but they make you go pick it up yourself), which gets picked up every other week. Its great!

    I definitely wouldn’t be happy if I had to haul my weekly 15+ gallons of recycling to the grocery store to recycle them. Bringing my redeemables back (really, I’m not a fan of putting a bunch of trash in my 2 year old car…) is enough of a pain in the ass.

  15. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    I just throw all my recyclables into a blue can the city picks up every other week. It gets sorted by machines or people, most likely some combination and I just don’t worry about it.

    No deposits, and the city uses the sales of the recyclables to offset trash disposal cost. Why does it have to be more complicated?

  16. evilpete says:

    I was in Amsterdam a decade ago and their stores had something similar.

  17. grapedog says:

    In Texas, this is really cool. Lots of places in Texas, like where I live in somewhat rural central Texas, there is no recycling program at all. I’d love to see them put one of these close to me.