Coca-Cola Ramps Up Recycling Efforts With Reverse Vending Machines

Posted On: 7/10/2018

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SEATTLE -- Coca-Cola Co. incentivized recycling at the 50th anniversary 2018 Special Olympics USA Games through reverse vending machines that let fans give back in more ways than one.  The event took place here July 1 through 6.

Visitors had the opportunity to visit two recycling stations at the games to deposit PET bottles or aluminum cans. The deposit of each recycled package triggered a 5¢ donation to Special Olympics Washington through the Coca-Cola Give platform. Participants were also prompted to text “give” to learn about additional opportunities to support their local communities.

The pilot with bottling partner Swire Coca-Cola USA supports Swire’s sustainability efforts and Coca-Cola’s “World Without Waste” vision to collect and recycle the equivalent of every bottle or can it sells globally by 2030.

Coca-Cola said the project came together in just a matter of weeks, with its customer sustainability and digital platforms and innovation teams collaborating with Special Olympics, Swire Coca-Cola USA and New York City-based equipment supplier Atlas RVM Systems.

“We worked very quickly to determine what was possible from a technology, logistics and transportation standpoint,” said Renee Bedford, Coca-Cola senior manager of container deposit governance. “We’re looking to move fast following this pilot and be iterative as possible to further drive sustainability across communities.”

The pilot supports Coke’s “World Without Waste” vision to collect and recycle the equivalent of every bottle or can it sells globally by 2030. The company is exploring opportunities to place the experiential machines in retail locations and at events such as music festivals, where fans could recycle to score perks like VIP upgrades.

 “Being able to connect the Recycle and Give RVM was a huge win in connecting recycling with rewarding important causes like Special Olympics,” said Nicole Smith, sustainability manager, customer collaboration for Coca-Cola North America. “This is our first pilot, but we are in discussions with some key customers on ways we can bring this to life in other spaces.”