The Schenectady, New York-based cooperative Tomra New York Recycling LLC (TNYR) has been recognized with a 2020 Sustainability Leadership Award by the New York Association for Reduction, Reuse and Recycling (NYSAR3).
TNYR, which describes itself as cooperative consisting of 14 beverage distributors and Europe-based recycling technology provider Tomra, earned the honor in NYSAR3’s “Private Sector” category. The award was given “in recognition of TNYR’s 21 years of innovation and collaboration serving the deposit return system in upstate New York by [helping evolve] beverage distributors into a sustainable material handling business, as well as delivering impressive collection rates and quality material valued by manufacturers,” according to Tomra.
TNYR “revolutionized” New York’s deposit program, the organization says, by “taking it from a largely manual and inefficient operation to a modern, optimized system through efficient logistics and automated collection.”
Under New York’s Returnable Container Law, distributors pick-up their empty bottles and cans from redemption locations for recycling. Prior to the creation of TNYR in 1999, material recovery was provided by individual brand owners and a few small operators, says TNYR.
Subsequently, TNYR has scaled up a pickup service to cover 46 New York counties and all of Vermont, serving 338 distributors and a total population of 5.9 million. By consolidating container pickup services, TNYR says it has created “dramatic reductions in fuel consumption and carbon emissions” and presumably costs.
Tomra reverse vending machines (RVMs) are now frequently used to automatically sort and count valid deposit containers, according to TNYR. Relationships forged between distributors and TOMRA allowed TNYR to scale the widespread use of machines. This, says the group, saved retailers time and resources, provided distributors with a digital ledger and accurate returns. Currently, more than 2,600 RVMs are in operation in the TNYR region.
Since its inception, TNYR says it has collected and recycled:
- 31 billion beverage containers, 73 percent of which were recycled back into bottles, cans or other food-grade packaging;
- the total includes 16.5 billion aluminum used beverage cans, or UBCs (232,500 tons);
- 4.7 billion glass containers (1 million tons); and
- 8.2 billion polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottles (207,000 tons).
TOMRA Executive Vice President Steve Nee, upon accepting the award, said, “Thank you to NYSAR3 for this prestigious award. We had to work hard with our distributor and retail partners to make TNYR a seamless operation. Today we recycle about 2 billion cans annually, and I could not be prouder of the positive impact this unique group has made for New York.”
Nee led the creation and expansion of TNYR since its inception in 1999.
TNYR says among the regional consumers of the secondary commodities collected have been UltrePET, in Albany, New York; Anchor Glass, in Elmira, New York; and PolyQuest in Farmingdale, New York.
Many of the RVMs used in New York were provided by Tomra Collection Solutions. The business unit of the Norway-based Tomra Group says it has taken part in some 82,000 RVM installations in more than 60 nations.