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Don’t waste vending progress

Author : Emily Stoten

23 December 2011

With recent studies suggesting that the cost of sending waste to landfill is set to reach £80 per tonne by 2014, it makes sense to focus on waste reduction and smarter waste management. Emily Stoten looks at how to tackle the waste issues associated with vending machines

Emily Stoten

This is especially important because it comes at a time when many facilities managers are under pressure to deliver green solutions whilst still delivering the bottom line.
It’s clear that waste reduction can be just as good for the budget as it can for the corporate reputation - but how can facilities managers, looking for ways to reduce waste both internally and through their suppliers, make a change that is right for their business?

One area that businesses can look at to reduce their waste and increase their recycling is their vending facility. From recycling cups to choosing the right machine, whether it’s refurbished or new, there are a number of ways facilities managers can deliver a smarter waste and recycling strategy.

Refurbished vending machines
Vending machines that have been refurbished to a high standard can look, feel and perform like new and facilities managers can rest assured that, in utilising the machines, a large amount of waste that potentially could have gone to landfill, has been reduced.
For those looking to implement a viable waste reduction strategy, choosing the right vending operator could be as important as choosing the right specialist recycling company.
Your chosen vending operator should be able to demonstrate that, when refurbishing a machine, it has been able to reuse the majority of its original parts all the while ensuring that those parts that don’t get reused are recycled or disposed of in an ethical and traceable manner. When Selecta refurbishes a machine, it re-uses 95% of parts by weight, paying particular attention to plastic components to avoid them being sent to landfill. This means that over a year 434 tons of parts are reused rather than being scrapped – the equivalent of 217 cars!

New vending machines
New machines can also help with recycling and waste management as modern machines have been designed to make the recycling process easier. If you do opt for a new machine, ensure that it also has LED lights fitted as standard. Not only will these use around 60% less energy than traditional lights, they also have a much longer life expectancy, equalling less waste sent to landfill long term. 

Don’t forget the watercooler...
Upgrading your bottled watercooler for a mains fed model is another sure fire way for facilities managers to benefit, from both an economic and sustainable perspective.
Plumbing straight into the mains means there is no need for bulky plastic bottles or costly deliveries which reduces waste and carbon emissions at a stroke.

What’s in a cup?
When reducing waste, it’s equally important to look at the products going through your vending machine. How much can waste be reduced and how much can be recycled? Many machines on the market now offer the end user the opportunity to use their own cup or reuse their cup, substantially reducing the waste caused through vending. People using the machines may not be aware that you can use your own cup. Facilities managers can help to communicate this simple, but effective message by ensuring they promote it to people using the vending machines. Your chosen operator should be able to make cup recycling as easy as possible for an end user.

Recent breakthroughs in cup technology mean that all plastic cups and sip lids – regardless of whether they have been used for hot or cold drinks – can be recycled together. Not every vending operator can make this claim for their own cup stocks, so a visit to any potential operator’s website, where this information should be clearly accessible, is advised.
Results from a study carried out by the British Plastics Federation, discussing the merits of recycling vs. landfill, showed that recycling cups used almost 25% less energy than sending them to landfill. It also reduced water consumption by 25%. There was also a reported 14% reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide, a 40% reduction in carbon monoxide emissions and a 35% reduction in hydrocarbon emissions.

Joining a scheme such as Save-a-Cup also provides companies with a hassle-free collection and recycling service. In 2010 Selecta recycled just under 300,000 cups, 100,000 of which were paper – the equivalent of 1 tonne of paper. And did you know Save-a-Cup can now recycle cans and PET so all drinks waste from your vending machines can be easily recycled.
Reducing energy consumption and carbon footprint often goes hand in hand with reducing costs. Good vending operators will ensure they work proactively with companies or facilities managers to deliver an efficient cost effective service which also reduces their carbon impact.

Emily Stoten is Concept Development Manager, Selecta UK and Ireland


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