Since 2014, Encorp Atlantic’s innovative recycling pilot projects, which are part of the “(re)” (i.e. “research”) initiative, have been exploring and testing new methods of redeeming used beverage containers. Goals include improving recycling rates in New Brunswick and consumer convenience, as well as increasing redemption centre productivity levels.
Our Re-Centre pilot project – which consists of automated bag-drop depots – was the first pilot project to be launched and has been our most successful. The Re-Centre depots in the Greater Moncton region have been able to serve customers with at least three bags (150 containers) in 30 seconds or less over 95% of the time and have proved that customers prefer better hours of operation for redemption centres (50% of Re-Centre visits occur when neighbouring redemption centres are closed). Furthermore, the improvements that the Re-Centre model offers have convinced consumers who do not regularly redeem their used beverage containers to start recycling again. This represents a whole new volume for redemption centres. Participant feedback has also been very positive, showing a clear need for faster, more efficient ways to recycle and redeem used beverage containers.
From June 2018-June 2020, we led a similar pilot project to Re-Centre, which was called Re-Express. Re-Express allowed us to test the concept of an automated bag drop depot with fixed-value bags and retail connectivity. The Re-Express depot was set up in the Sobeys Vaughan Harvey store parking lot in Moncton thanks to a partnership with this retailer. The Re-Express pilot project also helped us launch and test an in-store cash out option—the Re-Station—for customers to access their refund.
This pas June, we merged best practices from our Re-Express and Re-Centre pilot projects under a revised Re-Centre model – converting all three of our test depots into newly improved Re-Centre depots. Thanks to the success of our Re-Centre pilot project and what we have learned from our other pilot projects, we are ready to look at offering and adapting such technology to the needs of individual New Brunswick redemption centres in order to help them improve customer access and convenience.