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Tesco rolls out mini recycling machines

Britains largest supermarket is rolling out smaller sophisticated recycling machines in order to get more people to recycle on 3 April.

Tescos has 64 recycling machines out at the moment and is hoping to get 90 out by the end of this year.

Customers get Clubcard points for materials they put into the machine such as plastic bottles and glass. Most machines award one point for every four items recycled. It aims to reward consumers for recycling.

Smaller units will be put outside convenient stores or metro stores and are newer and slightly more sophisticated than the bigger ones.

Once customers put their recyclable materials in the machine it can scan the barcodes of the products to identify what type of material it is. The machines also use scales, lasers and reflection of light to identify materials.

Head of waste, energy and recycling Alasdair James told MRW that the machine uses an elevator to lift up the materials to be compacted or shredded and then put into different compartments such as HDPE, PET or aluminium. The materials are then taken by Tescos lorries as part of its backhauling process to its recycling centres.

The machines have recently been established in Scotland and Tesco has plans to take it to Wales.

James said: In Germany, you do not see much plastic bottles by way of litter on the street because they will pick them up and put them in a machine.

We couldnt put it out [recycling machines] in places like Westminster for security reasons. Some key areas in London will not put them out because of security. I think in thoroughfares it will present an opportunity to do this. We are testing it to see, we generally do not know. If it did work it will be very very exciting.

The bigger machines cost around £150,000. Machines have software built into them to reject the wrong type of stuff like bubble wrap. James said that anything that the machine cannot recycle will be rejected at source: A message comes out and says that Im sorry but it cant recycle that. Take it home and recycle it. Over time people become used to what they can and cannot recycle.

A recent BBC report said that some consumers were misusing the recycling machine system by cutting up bits of plastic with scissors to get more Clubcard points (see MRW story). James said: It was a small minority of people but it was hilarious to watch unless you were the next person standing in the queue.


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