Plastics Recycling Update

Bottle-redemption technology heads to New York

Water bottles / limpido, ShutterstockA Maine-based company that offers an automated system for collecting containers and redeeming deposits is extending its reach.

Clynk currently employs its service and technology in 49 Hannaford supermarkets in Maine. It recently announced it was opening 51 new drop locations at Hannaford stores in the greater Albany and Schenectady areas of New York.

Maine law puts a 5-cent deposit on containers, except for wine and liquor bottles, which have a 10-cent deposit. New York State puts a 5-cent deposit on containers (its program excludes wine and liquor bottles).

Customers set up an account with Clynk and bring Clynk bags full of used containers to drop locations. They scan a barcode on a sticker on the bag, a chute opens and they deposit the bag. Each day, Clynk staff collect the containers and return them to a processing center, where the sticker and container barcodes are automatically scanned, identifying and counting containers and linking them to the customer.

Funds are deposited into the customer’s account within 48 hours. Customers can get cash, apply the money toward grocery purchases or donate it to a charity.

The first Hannaford store to get the Clynk system is now collecting two-and-a-half times the volume it was before it was installed, said Clayton Kyle, Clynk founder and CEO. Currently, more than 10 percent of the state’s used beverage containers are redeemed through Clynk.

“(There’s) no question we’ve increased the volume going through the Hannaford stores,” he said.

Retailers appreciate the approach because it reduces smells from residual liquids, keeps containers out of sight and relieves their staff of having to empty reverse vending machines, Kyle said. And the convenience to customers adds value to the Hannaford brand and brings in additional foot traffic.

Upon sign up, customers get 10 free plastic bags capable of holding a total of roughly 650 bottles. An additional 10 bags costs $1.75. Bags are made with recycled content and, after use, are baled for recycling themselves, Kyle said.

Clynk is currently licensing the technology in Oregon and the Canadian province of New Brunswick. The company began working with the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative in mid-2009 and its technology went into the first Bottle Drop standalone redemption center in fall 2010.

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