Edeka Trinkgut Gerdes pilots new Tomra multi-feed reverse vending machine

Edeka independent retailer Pascal Gerdes is piloting the new Tomra R2 multi-feed reverse vending machine at his Trinkgut beverages store in Moers. This is one of the first installations in Germany of the latest development from the Norwegian specialist supplier. The manufacturer is carrying out further tests in live operation in Sweden, Finland, and Norway. With the R2, Tomra is now adding a wall-mounted system to its first multi-feed vending machine R1, which is also suitable for smaller stores.

Customers can deposit their empty PET bottles and beverage cans at the innovative machines all at once and unsorted, they no longer must place them individually on a conveyor belt. The Retail Optimiser has already reported on the test of the Tomra R1 at Aldi Nord and its use at Edeka Meyer’s Frischecenter. The R2 model should be able to accept all types of bottles and cans used in Germany easily, quickly, and cleanly, Tomra Vice President Thomas Løstegård explained in an online press conference this week. The company is currently working on a solution for taking back returnable glass bottles as well. In future, there will also be a matching module for taking back drinks crates.


Pascal Gerdes has been using the new system at his Trinkgut store since the beginning of February this year. Last month, almost 2,000 customers have used the system. The average throughput per day is around 4,000 containers. In the press conference, he reported that the machine had accepted 471 containers in one case, the largest single process to date.

Satisfied customers and employees

Pascal Gerdes did not have to carry out any major conversions in his store. The Tomra R2 fits into the interface of its predecessor, the T9, and uses the same background systems. Pascal Gerdes explains that the new system has been well received by store staff: ”The employees are grateful that things are faster now.” During pilot operation, there were only a few errors that could be rectified immediately. Customers first had to get used to the unfamiliar system. However, now, they are waiting at the new machine, even if the common system next to it was free, he adds. They were particularly positive about the fact that it was no longer necessary to sort the empties.

However, some customers are irritated when they must wait for the machine after depositing the containers. While the machine recognises the empties, they are unemployed. This creates the feeling of having to wait longer, even though the process objectively takes less time. The manufacturer claims that it is up to five times faster, depending on container size. Tomra is already working on a solution to bridge the waiting time, explained Thomas Løstegård: ”We want to visualise that something is happening.” For example, advertising messages could be presented on the display of the device. The waiting time could be avoided altogether if the transaction was saved via app or on a card using NFC technology. In the first case, the device generates a QR code on the display, which the customer scans with their smartphone. With the card solution, the process would be transmitted contactless. The deposit amount would then be called up and refunded at the checkout. However, this requires the customer to trust the system.

More news behind the wall

Tomra has also developed a new space-saving solution for compacting disposable containers. Thanks to its vertical design, the Tomra RollPac requires less floor space. Nevertheless, the device has a higher collection capacity. Container bags fit into standard roll containers and can therefore be disposed of easily and safely. The new module is compatible with the T8 and T9 systems as well as with the R2. Rewe Group is currently piloting the solution at its store in Cologne-Dellbrück. Store manager Jörg Combach applauded its easy and safe usage in a video message.

The Tomra RollPac compactor requires less space with higher capacity. (Photo: Tomra)
The Tomra RollPac compactor requires less space with higher capacity. (Photo: Tomra)

It is to be expected that retailers will be obliged to take back further types of packaging in the future. Tomra is also working on possible solutions here. Thomas Løstegård reported that Tetra Pak containers are already being taken back in some countries. Tests have also been carried out with trays for reusable food packaging. However, this would require standardisation. He emphasised that Tomra is primarily concentrating on beverage packaging.

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Joachim Pinhammer

Joachim Pinhammer supports retail and technology companies with consulting and marketing expertise. He was Senior Analyst and Research Director Retail Technology at the London-based analyst group Planet Retail. Prior to that, he was the global marketing director for the retail division of Wincor Nixdorf (now Diebold Nixdorf). Joachim Pinhammer is a regular speaker at events organised by Messe Düsseldorf (EuroShop and EuroCIS), the EHI and further industry conferences. His reports are regularly published by trade magazines and online retail industry media.

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