Skip to main content

Woolworths pilots SA's first in-store recycling vending machine

| Innovation and technology

In line with its recent announcement to achieve ZERO packaging waste to landfill by 2022, Woolworths has launched the customer trial of an integrated reverse vending machine in its flagship green store, Woolworths Palmyra in Claremont. This is good news for the many South African consumers who have called on retailers and manufacturers to reduce packaging waste.

“It might seem like a fun innovation because it’s so smart, but this is actually an important trial,” says Feroz Koor, the Woolworths Holdings Group Head of Sustainability. “Packaging plays a vital role in protecting products. The effort to reduce pollution is not just about finding the ways to minimise packaging in a responsible way; it is also about supporting consumers’ in their efforts to recycle, which in turn, boosts the country’s recycling industry. We are very proud to introduce our first in-store recycling vending machine. We know from customer surveys and social media conversations that there many customers concerned about reducing waste and we hope they will be keen to put the recycling vending machine through its paces so that it can be perfected and rolled out to more stores.”

The vending machine, which identifies recyclability by scanning product barcodes, was tested out first over a six-month period at Woolworths’ Head Office in Cape Town. Employees’ recycling efforts helped refine and expand the database and the user experience of the smart machine to amass a database of recyclable packaging barcodes that includes both Woolies products and other popular brands sold elsewhere. Takeaway paper coffee cups with barcodes, glass and tin containers, plastic bottles and containers up to the 2.25-litre size and Tetrapak are all accepted by the vending machine.

“Our Palmyra store is where we have trialled the majority of our green initiatives so we are looking forward to enthusiastic customer engagement. It is also the only retail store in South Africa to receive a 5-star rating certified by the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA)* so it made sense to trial South Africa’s first in-store integrated reverse vending machine there,“ added Koor.

Recycling vending machines are increasingly common internationally where consumers participate actively in daily environmentally-friendly practices. To participate in the waste reduction process, consumers log in as a user of the recycling vending machine via their mobile phones and deposit their clean, barcoded recyclable items. As part of the scanning and sorting of recyclable items, the user immediately receives an SMS confirmation of their deposit and an encouraging congratulations on being an eco-warrior. A local recycler is alerted when the machine is reaching its capacity to collect the materials and is an integral part of the process that ensures that recyclable packaging does not needlessly end up in landfills.

“Our ZERO waste to landfill journey is supported by many Woolies customers,” Koor concludes. “We know that they will appreciate this innovation and that they recognise that we can’t walk this path alone. From producers to the household, and then beyond to include the South African recycling industry, we need to go forward towards ZERO waste to landfill, hand in hand.”

* using the Green Star SA – Existing Building Performance Custom Tenant rating tool




Pin It

Related Articles

Sixty60 promises lightning-fast delivery of 10 ...

Checkers Sixty60 is beta testing the new and improved version of its app, enabling customers to shop for over 10 000 larger Hyper products, with same day delivery scheduled within a 60-minute time slot. 

Pick n Pay launches new money transfer service,...

Pick n Pay has set a new standard in affordability and accessibility with the launch of its store-to-store Domestic Money Transfer service. At R8.00 per transaction, it is the cheapest price for customers within retail stores.

Retail tech: what to expect in 2024

By Mike Smollan, Chief Growth Officer at Smollan With technology constantly on the move, the retail industry has no choice but to adapt to keep pace and up to speed with the broader changing face of consumer expectations.

Retail trend riptides: time to sink or swim

By Nicola Allen – Senior Retail Analyst, Trade Intelligence Retail trends do not occur in isolation; they are the result of macro influences that shape consumer and shopper behaviour and retailer strategies. In the ever-evolving world of retail, ...

FNB offers the cheapest licence disc renewals i...

By: Myles Illidge - MyBroadband FNB recently slashed the pricing of its licence disc renewal service from R171 to R99, including delivery, making it the cheapest provider in South Africa.