22/07/2018 – The Trinidad Guardian. / Trash for cash. This is the incentive for Massy Stores‘ customers and other citizens from the general public who bring in used bottles and other disposable items to be used for recycling purposes.
This initiative was the brain child of businessman Joseph Rahael, director, Kansmacker Recycling, who spoke to Business & Money on Tuesday at Massy Stores, Westmoorings.
Kansmacker is based in Michigan in the United States and has been in existence for almost 40 years but the local joint venture with Rahael in T&T is almost three years old.
Last week, Kansmacker set up a recycling machine at three Massy Stores in Trinidad, Alyce Glencoe, Westmoorings and Maraval.
“It is called a reverse vending machine and it is a tool where the end goal is to eradicate plastic bottles and aluminium cans from the trash cycle in T&T. I know that might sound like a bold claim but that is the intent. It can be successful because it is meant to be a self sustaining system where we are incentivising citizens of T&T to dispose of their trash. We want to bring a recycling solution to all of T&T,” he said.
He said trash in T&T is a significant contributor to floods and general malaise in the country and he wants to make his contribution to a cleaner and more developed society.
“I came across this opportunity presented by other local entrepreneurs and I think that it is a fantastic opportunity for us to tackle and possibly eradicate plastic beverage containers and aluminium cans in our trash cycle. We have to try as it is worth a shot.”
When asked, how much it costs to set up the machine, he declined to say.
Benefits to customers
He said that a person puts a bottle inside the machine, it reads the bottle, and then crushes it and places it in an internal bin and later on disposed of in an environmentally safe way.
“When you put in your bottles and your cans and you are finished, you press the green bottle and then the customer gets a receipt. The receipt has bar code. Currently, people can use the bar code in Massy Stores and redeem that bar code for Massy points. You are essentially converting your trash into cash. It is sustainable because if you are incentivising people to do this, it will be long term.”
According to Rahael, each machine can hold up to 2,000 bottles after which it is emptied before it is ready to be refilled again.
He added that these machines use the latest technology and transmits data via wifi.
“This machine stores data like how many bottles, how many cans, what brand of can and so on. It is also a wifi spot so that in head office we can enter bar codes as we get them because part of the success of this is predicated on manufacturers and importers of bottles sending us their bar codes so we can upload these barcodes into the machine. The machine reads the barcodes so that is how it knows it is a bottle or a can.”
These recycled items will be then exported internationally to countries like the United States where manufacturers there take these items and make them into new products.
He explained that it is a pilot programme that they are doing with Massy Stores and he hopes to include other members of the corporate community soon.
‘The goal is to expand the network of this machine in all Massy Stores and eventually is to have these machines in many locations. For example, when you put your bottles and cans in and you get your receipt you can scan this receipt onto an app that is on the phone. Once I get points, I then go to rewards and I can go to KFC and redeem it for a free Pepsi. Of course they are not on the programme but it what we would like to see in the future. Only Massy Stores has committed to the programme so far.”
He also hopes to have these machines in schools as he believes that the younger generation must be inculcated with the values of recycling at a young age.
He added that the pilot programme with Massy will be fully operationalised in a week’s time
“We have not launched it fully yet because we are still integrating with the Massy points programme. It actually should come online in a week.”
He said he wants all stakeholders in the country-from private citizens to businesses to the Government-to be part of the programme.
Massy‘s green project
Derek Winford, CEO, Massy Stores, also spoke to Business & Money during the interview about the pilot project.
“This is just another step in our Get to Green initiative. We spoke about our plastic bags and the 34 million plastic bags that we were using annually. Now we have transitioned to the re-usable bags. It went quite well. The old bag was called a ‘single use plastic bag’ because it was used once. Then it disappears and a lot of it ends up in the ocean. Now customers have the re-usable bags which cost $10. We also gave away over 60,000 bags.”
He said the installation of the recycling machine is another step in their “Get to Green” project.
“We cannot get rid of all the plastic as we still use a lot, so that which we use we want to recycle it. That is what this is about. So you can put in an empty bottle that was a bottle of water, it is plastic and has a barcode. Depending on how customers react to it, you we may have to empty it every hour. We will see.”
He said Massy Stores looked at what is going on internationally and the removal of the single use plastic bag from supermarkets.
“We said that locally we have to make our contribution and we were using 34 million plastic bags annually. We cannot just use these bags and not have consequences for the environment.”
He added that they are starting with bottles and cans but eventually want to expand into other items as well.