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The world’s most efficient deposit-based return systems


TOMRA is the world leader in reverse vending solutions. It provides an automated method for collecting, sorting and handling used beverage containers for recycling or reuse. TOMRA has over 84 000 facilities in more than 60 markets. Reverse vending machines are the centrepiece of modern deposit systems: they can achieve return rates of almost 100% and maintain the food-grade status of used beverage containers. This means they can be reused through closed-loop recycling. No other waste or collection system currently matches this performance.

With more countries considering implementing a deposit return system for single-use beverage containers, the challenge facing policymakers is to develop legislation and design systems that will be very efficient in the long term. Based on their 40+ years of experience, TOMRA conducted a global review to identify what makes a high-performing system. The lessons learnt will help address today’s challenges of meeting new waste recovery targets, ending littering and moving towards a circular economy.


Main results: 
  • Every year, TOMRA facilitates the collection of more than 40 billion empty cans and bottles and provides retailers and consumers with an effective and efficient way of collecting, sorting and processing these containers. This helps avoid around 4 million tons of CO2 emissions.
  • With 40+ years of experience, TOMRA is present in every major container deposit market in the world, giving them insight into deposit return system design. They have found that all high-performing deposit systems prioritise four principles: performance, convenience, producer responsibility and system integrity.