Waste idea offers schools 'Options'
REMEMBER the days of taking empty pop bottles back to the shop for a cash return?
Well one company has brought the idea bang up to date to boost recycling rates across the country.
Options Management, based in Silverdale, provides a range of vending services, from hot drinks to snacks and confectionery.
And back in 2005 it became the first UK company to introduce a machine for recycling empty drinks containers that rewards users for their contributions.
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The reverse vending machines sort empties by material type, crush and store them ready for transportation and even give the donors receipts, reward coupons or loyalty points.
But while the automated machines use the latest technology to sort a minimum of a million containers a month – they come at a price.
So managing director Paul Ure has designed a smaller piece of equipment, which is manufactured in Staffordshire, to encourage more schools, colleges and businesses to carry on recycling without having to fork out big bucks for the privilege.
Unlike the top-of-the-range machines, the Options Management reverse vending machine doesn’t sort the cans and bottles.
But Paul said that doesn’t mean it’s not as effective.
He added: “For everything we supply – be it in a cup, can or bottle – we can offer a complete recycling solution that is totally traceable. This is something unique.
“The smaller machine we have designed doesn’t compact the waste like the bigger machines we can supply.
“Instead we bring all the empties back here to our site and we do all the separation and compaction.
“We are in a recession. As a company, we have had some growth, but we have to stay as competitive as we can.”
Having a cheaper, smaller reverse vending machine on offer has meant that Options Management has been able to continue to attract new customers at a time when money is tight.
The machines are proving especially popular in schools, where students are encouraged to recycle their empties, keep their school tidy and, of course, there is always the chance that the bottle or can they put into the recycling machine may just trigger a token.
The tokens are issued on a random basis and can be exchanged for a free drink, for example.
Paul stresses though, that the reward scheme and the vending systems can be tailor-made to suit the customer.
He said: “We are completely independent and are not tied to any manufacturer.
“The range of equipment we can offer is so diverse.
“For example, we are now working with schools on biometric systems, so instead of students using a pre-paid card for their snacks and drinks, they can just press their thumb on a panel.
“And when mum and dad log on to top up the account, they can access data to show exactly what their children have been spending their dinner money on.”
Since moving to Maries Way in Silverdale in 1999, more than £2 million has been invested in the Options Management site, where 60 people now work.
The company has contracts across the country, from Cornwall to Scotland, and has engineers based in key locations to attend to customers’ needs.
Drivers who deliver stock for the vending machines also take away any empties collected in the recycling machines, meaning no extra journeys are made.
About 20 tonnes of waste from customers is recycled each month.
Now the company has entered The Sentinel Business Awards in the Environmental Business category, sponsored by Lister Trade Frames.
Paul added: “None of our waste goes abroad and we are very proud of that. When it is processed it stays in the UK.
“After we sort it and compact it, the waste goes on to a number of processors, including two which are based in Staffordshire.
“Then they get it ready to be made into commercial parts – it could be used for plastic mouldings on a lawn mower or car for example.
“We are one of the biggest independent vending companies in the UK and we are growing – and that’s because we have been innovative and listened to our customers.”
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