Refind's Battery Refund machine: old batteries in, coupons for new batteries out

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Technopolis Group
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Each year, 2000 tonnes of household batteries are used in Norway.

A YouGov survey found that 26% of people throw used batteries away with the household waste, while 80% know that waste batteries contain hazardous material and need to be recycled. Awareness is a good motivational factor, but financial reward is even better. In the survey, half the participants answered that a payback structure would influence the amount of batteries returned.

Coop Norway and Energizer therefore decided to launch the world's first reverse vending machine for batteries, developed by Swedish Refind Technologies. People can drop off their dead batteries, and the machine recognises the main household types (AA, AAA, C, D and 9V) using size sensors. The batteries are then scanned and a refund is calculated.

Main results

The system was launched in 2017 and tested in Obs! Coop stores around Oslo. Kiosks pay out one krone (around 10 euro cents) per battery, which is printed out as a coupon that can be used to buy new batteries.