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Pick ‘n Pay set to roll out more RVMs

By Sue Segar

ON the back of the success of the reverse vending machines (RVMs) which the Pick ‘n Pay Group has set up on 11 sites in the Western Cape and Gauteng, the group is set to roll out another 50 machines nationwide over the next six months.

The rollout is in the planning phases whilst awaiting to secure funding, according to Steffen Burrows, head of Group Sustainability for the Pick ‘n Pay Group.

Steffen Burrows, head of Group Sustainability for the Pick ‘n Pay Group.

Reverse vending machines allow consumers to insert used or empty bottles and other items in exchange for a reward, so that they can be recycled. The machines enable customers to be rewarded for recycling waste products, including plastic, cans, coffee cups, Tetrapak, glass and refillable items.

Burrows said the project has been a success since the first machine was set up 18 months ago at Pick n Pay ‘s flagship store at the Nicol Shopping Centre in Sandton. Since then, machines have been installed at stores in the V & A Waterfront in Cape Town, at Camps Bay, as well as in Constantia, the Kenilworth Centre, the Douglasdale Pick n Pay; the Pick n Pay Expo and the Plastic Colloquium.

“There are three machines at Nicol Shopping Centre and two at the Waterfront – one at the Pick n Pay and another at the V & A Waterfront Breakwater Parking site,” said Burrows.

“Our annual figures for the last 12 months are good and we are now ready to expand.”

In a nutshell, the machine works as follows, Burrows explained: “The consumer arrives at the RVM location. The consumer inserts their recyclable waste into the RVM. The consumer enters their cellphone number for identification. The rebate for their deposit is paid into their digital wallet. The consumer qualifies for rewards and circular coupons. The consumer cashes out with in app rewards partner.”

Providing data on the success of the recycling project, Burrows said so far the machines have had 22 000 users over the 11 sites.

“Close to 280 000 units have been recycled; we have had nearly 20 000kg of recycled material; and we have paid out our customers over R5 800 for the recycling materials. While the financial numbers are small, it’s the fact that people are actively making an effort to recycle that is important.”

Burrows said 56 percent of the users were women, 35 percent were men, with eight percent not assigned.

“The most prominent users (40 percent) were aged between 21 and 40; with the second biggest user group (33 percent) aged 41 to 60; while 15 percent of the users were over sixty.”

Burrows said, in the rolling out of the next machines, the Pick n Pay group will link the machines to its Smart Shopper programme. “This will mean that customers who use these machines can receive Smart Shopper points and discounts on certain products.

Pick n Pay partners with Imagined Earth, the company which makes the machines for the project, through a rental arrangement, and is currently in negotiations with a number of companies with a view to setting up sponsorship deals whereby the companies sponsor the rentals and get advertising space on the machine in return.

Burrows said that, currently the machines can only be used by people with smartphones. “We are looking at a USSD solution for those without smartphones going forward,” he said.

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