SCHNECTADY, NY — TOMRA New York Recycling (TNYR) has been recognized with the 2020 Sustainability Leadership Award by the New York Association for Reduction, Reuse and Recycling (NYSAR3), in the “Private Sector” category.
The honour was given in recognition of TNYR’s 21 years of innovation and collaboration serving the deposit return system in upstate New York by engaging all beverage distributors into a sustainable material handling business, as well as delivering impressive collection rates and quality material valued by manufacturers – many in New York.
TOMRA New York Recycling is a unique cooperative of 14 beverage distributors and TOMRA, a recycling innovation company. TNYR revolutionized New York’s deposit program, 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. Since then, TNYR has scaled its pick-up 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 pick-up services, TNYR enabled dramatic reductions in fuel consumption and carbon emissions.
Additionally, before TNYR the deposit program still depended on manual counting and billing of containers, rather than reverse vending machines (RVMs), which automatically sort and count valid deposit containers. RVMs rely on distributor permission before processing containers.
Based on the relationships built between distributors and TOMRA, an RVM provider, TNYR was able to scale the widespread use of machines. This saved retailers time and resources, provided distributors with a digital ledger and accurate returns and enabled New York’s deposit program to flourish. Today, more than 2,600 RVMs are in operation in the TNYR region.
Since its inception, TNYR has collected and recycled:
- 31 billion beverage containers, 73% of which were recycled back into bottles, cans or other food-grade packaging:
- 16.5 billion aluminum containers (465 million pounds)
- 4.7 billion glass containers (2 billion pounds)
- 8.2 billion PET containers (414 million pounds)
TOMRA Executive Vice President, Steve Nee, who led the creation and expansion of TNYR since the beginning, accepted the award. “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,” he said.
In addition to the litter reduction benefits from collecting these containers off the street, parks and beaches, TNYR has enabled local businesses that rely on recycled material to thrive, including UltrePET (Albany), Anchor Glass (Elmira), PolyQuest (Long Island), and created 425 direct jobs.