In with the old: express recycling


After weeks of schlepping bottles and cans inside Ralphs market and waiting in check-out lines for refunds, Malibu’s recyclers now have new machines to streamline the process.

Supplied by Orange County-based Tomra, the four sleek, new can banks (two for aluminum cans, one each for glass and plastic bottles) refund 3 cents per can or bottle 24 oz. or smaller, and 5 cents for larger containers, an increase over the 5 cents for two dispensed by the stingier old models.

The old machines were notorious for rejecting perfectly legitimate CA Redemption containers, displaying “unable to read bar code.” That frustration is now history as the Tomra machines actually accept non-CRV containers, shredding and squishing them along with the others, while deducting the refund from the receipt. Smart.

The machine also separates the green plastic from the clear, depositing the shredded remains in two separate bins. Really smart!

Operated by a computer chip — what else? — they alert the Tomra office if there is a malfunction, and experts can work it out on-line.

“Most problems are minor,” said Tomra service technician Magin Sanches. “They can jam if someone puts in something they’re not programmed to take. Usually, it kicks it out.”

Market managers complained about litter from containers rejected by the old machines. They also were pestered by people whose CRV bottles were mistakenly rejected, necessitating a written receipt and more waiting in line. “These machines accept them and note on the receipt how many are nonpaying,” Sanches said.

Managers also appreciate the digital display showing how full the bins are and the percentage of remaining capacity. By all counts, a huge improvement and well worth the wait.