12 April 2021 by James Langley

Viridor and Tomra collaborate on Scottish DRS bid

Viridor and recycling infrastructure company Tomra have joined together in a bid for the design, build and operation of the Scottish deposit return scheme (DRS) counting and sorting centres.

Scotland is to introduce a DRS from 1 July 2022 to make it easier for people to recycle their used bottles and cans, including all drinks sold in PET plastic, metal and glass. Its launch had been set for April 2021, but was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic (see letsrecycle.com story).

An example of a Tomra reverse vending machine (picture: Tomra)

The two companies say the counting and sorting centres represent a “critical” part of the infrastructure required to underpin the efficient and accurate function of the DRS.

Luke Burgess, Viridor’s director of business development (polymers), said: “Viridor has a long history of investing in Scottish recycling infrastructure and the DRS offers the opportunity to supplement that investment and contribute to green job creation and the development of a truly circular economy.

“We are delighted to build on our relationship with Tomra, the world leader in the provision of equipment for deposit return schemes, to work with Scotland to develop a smooth transition to a sustainable future.”

It is hoped the introduction of a DRS in Scotland will drive collection rates for drinks containers to levels in excess of 90%, reduce littering and contribute to net zero climate goals.

Reverse vending machines

Tomra was founded in Norway in 1972 to design, manufacture and sell reverse vending machines for the automated collection of used beverage containers. The company says it now has more than 100,000 installations in over 80 markets worldwide.

“The Tomra Viridor partnership is formed under the shared vision to facilitate a modern, cost-effective and best practice Scottish deposit return system”

Truls Haug, Tomra

Truls Haug, Tomra Collection Solutions UK and Ireland’s managing director, said: “The Tomra Viridor partnership is formed under the shared vision to facilitate a modern, cost-effective and best practice Scottish deposit return system, acting as a catalyst for sustainable recycling outcomes, delivering key sorting and counting centre services to the deposit operator.

“Our partnership forms a unique and complementary mix of global and UK-based experience, enabling a compelling ‘fit-for-purpose’ service offer, which if accepted could be deployed in due time for scheme commencement. We are inspired by the progress made to date and the opportunity ahead of us.”

Scotland

Scotland’s DRS will see people pay a deposit of 20p when they buy a drink in a single-use container, which they get back when they return the empty bottle or can.

According to Zero Waste Scotland, more than 70% of Scots want a DRS and its introduction would see 34,000 fewer plastic bottles littered every day, 76,000 additional tonnes recycled each year, and 4 million tonnes of CO2eq emissions cut over 25 years.

However, the scheme’s proposed introduction has proved controversial within the industry. In May 2020 critics such as Rick Hindley, chief executive of the Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation (Alupro), and Dave Dalton, chief executive officer of British Glass, raised concerns about the ‘flat-rate’ deposit and the scheme’s roll-out date (see letsrecycle.com story).

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