Reverse vending machines offer chance to back the future

Reverse vending machines offer chance to back the future

Dublin-based firm Sensi has ‘first mover’ advantage in plastic bottle recycling, a sector which is set to scale at warp speed to meet environmental regulations

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21st November, 2021

Pressure is growing on the government, retailers and consumers to increase rates of recycling, particularly of plastic bottles – a contributor to marine pollution with eight million tons of plastic entering our oceans annually.

The Single Use Plastics Directive requires the separate collection of 90 per cent of single use plastic beverage bottles by 2029 and for the content of 30 per cent of such bottles to be recycled by 2030.

Dublin-based Sensi has been developing products to address this challenge. “Our world has many sustainability challenges, but the one we’re focused on is how to increase public participation in recycling and reuse, globally still shockingly low at just 9 per cent,” Seamus Devitt, chief executive of Sensi, said.

“A carrot and stick approach is required to make serious progress here. The stick comes in the form of ever increasing regulations and targets from the EU and elsewhere, and our goal is to be the carrot, by rewarding and encouraging people for doing the right thing.

“At Sensi, we reward people for recycling correctly. We use visual recognition AI technology to tackle this problem. Our Smart RVMs (reverse vending machines) are perfect for any DRS (deposit return scheme), whether government-regulated or private.”

Sensi has developed the world’s first Smart RVMs. Reverse vending machines take back used recyclable items, such as beverage cans or plastic PET bottles, in exchange for a monetary reward.

“Sensi’s Smart RVM uses AI visual recognition and patented technologies, making the product more efficient and cost-effective than standard RVMs, Dr Dexmont Peña, co-founder and chief technology officer, said. Sensi’s product also encourages good recycling habits by rewarding users with digital vouchers in the form of QR codes.

“Sensi’s machine operates by only allowing the disposal of selected items. This leads to a virtually uncontaminated, high-quality collection stream of recyclable materials – good enough to go directly for processing without additional sorting, an excellent example of the circular economy in action.”

Sensi’s machines are used in public locations (shopping centres, airports, transport hubs, etc) and in corporate offices to offer convenient and rewarding ways to recycle properly.

“Our machines are extremely versatile and can be used as part of a government-regulated deposit return scheme such as the one coming to Ireland next year, but also as part of private recycling reward schemes recently launched in the Pavilions Shopping Centre in Swords,” Nathan Misischi, who co-founded the business with Peña, said.

Sensi’s SRVMs have been rolled out in several locations across Ireland, such as premium retailer Fresh and the Pavilions Shopping Centre in Swords, the first shopping centre in Ireland to adopt such a scheme. Companies supporting this new initiative include Dunnes Stores, SuperValu, Chopped, Roosters Piri Piri, Zaytoon, the White Moose and Jump Juice Bars, with many more still to be announced.

“We’re delighted to be able to work with such an innovative and sustainable centre, alongside our retailer customers. Together, we’re leading Ireland’s transition to a circular economy,” Misischi said. “This marks the beginning of a planned rollout across multiple shopping centres in Ireland and Britain. There has also been keen interest in the product in the US market, and rollout there is planned for Q1 next year.

“Our immediate plans are to scale the sales and marketing team both in Europe and the US to capitalise on the market excitement and interest in our new products. Longer term, we have plans to use this technology to implement a host of novel deposit return schemes for other recyclable and reusable items. It’s an exciting space, with many profitable niche sectors and our proprietary technology gives us a head start over the competition.”

Devitt said that this was the company’s second EIIS funding round, following a successful initial round in 2020 which helped fund the successful product development. “This EIIS round will support the scaling of our sales and marketing team. The usual EIIS tax reliefs apply in full to qualified investors,” he said.

“This is an ethical investment in a dynamic Irish company with an experienced team and a proven disruptive product. This investment will suit individuals with an interest in sustainability investments.”

For further information, contact [email protected]

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