TOMRA has revealed its first vertical and compact backroom system to store beverage containers returned for recycling, set to add height to storage cabinets for space-efficient reverse vending layouts.

Backroom reverse vending solutions are typically installed on the other side of a wall behind a reverse vending machine, usually in a storage room. Their purpose is to sort, compact, and store bottles and cans without increasing the footprint of the front-of-house area, allowing retailers to make the best use of shop floor space.

As well as unlocking space efficiency, the TOMRA RollPac system is designed to enable retail employees to carry loads of drink containers with roller cages – a logistics format already familiar to many supermarkets, which is set to streamline integration into existing storage room infrastructure.

On roller cages, the containers can be transported back to regional hubs on trucks; this is set to improve the efficiency of pick-ups and reduce emissions in transit.

TOMRA RollPac is 2.6 metres in height and is said to offer a 40% smaller footprint compared to similar systems. It is designed for use in small to medium stores, with its flexible cabinet layout expected to fit most locations.

Reportedly, the system can be used in conjunction with existing front-end reverse vending machines, including TOMRA T9, TOMRA T8, and the upcoming TOMRA R2, which is scheduled to launch later this year. TOMRA also emphasizes its compatibility with backroom equipment like tables and turns, which is expected to lower the investment required to install it.

Five stores in Austria and Germany tested TOMRA RollPac in June 2023. According to employees at the participating shops, the system is easy to empty and was therefore welcomed.

“The feedback from our employees is simply fantastic, because they see that handling has become better and simpler,” said one store. “Our backroom is a particular challenge because it is small and narrow, but TOMRA RollPac just fits right in.”

One store recorded a 24% decrease in the number of storage bin changes during a one-month period, as well as a 31% increase in the number of containers stored between each bin change. Each change was only said to take 20 seconds, which apparently falls between five and seven seconds faster than backroom solutions that do not feature a rolling bin.

Additionally, the rolling bin format means that only one employee is required per bin change, which makes for a more efficient process that can be carried out regardless of the workers present.

“TOMRA RollPac forms our most compact backroom system,” explains Gudbrand Arnesen, head of Product Management at TOMRA Collection. “TOMRA’s first ever vertical storage system handles the highest volume of bottles and cans in the smallest footprint, so you can make the most of your backroom storage or retail sales space.

“This means stores can collect higher volumes, while reducing operational effort and enabling staff to spend more time with their customers.”

TOMRA RollPac is currently available in Austria, will be released in Germany later this year, and is scheduled to roll out to further countries throughout 2024 and 2025.

The announcement comes after TOMRA Collection released TOMRA M1, which was claimed to be the market’s smallest three-material reverse vending machine, back in 2022. It was intended as a plug-and-play solution to help smaller retailers participate in deposit return schemes.

More recently, TOMRA has invested €36 million to establish new infrastructure for a deposit return scheme in Quebec, which is set to commence this year.

Meanwhile, a report from TOMRA outlined the impact of in-store deposit return systems on European consumers that recycle over 50 drink containers at a time; its findings were intended to help retailers increase traffic and brand loyalty for their stores.

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