Vending machine for water/soda/coffee using returnable packaging

Hi from Russia! 

Im newbie to circular economy, and I'd love to link my Supply Chain career to CE projects. I have recently finished 2 online courses on edX platform by Wageninghen and Delft Universities, and currently taking the 3d edX course - Engineering Design for a Circular Economy

I didn't think to write here but your question came stright into me. What if we didn't need single-use plastics anymore?

I rememeber exactly the time when we really didnt need it. In the USSR we didnt have single used plastic till 90ies. We even didnt have a culture of eating outside, exept for water/soda sold via vending machines.

What, vending machine? Yes, I suggest to develop an idea of vending machine, using reusable packaging.

Why not consider as an alternative to plastic bottles/ single use coffee cups ? At least for frequently visited places like parks, offices, metro, bus & railway stations, supermarkets,...

+ Vending machine uses glasses. A person buy a drink, glass is filled with a drink. A person drinks and returns the glass. The glass is washed for the next use

+ Packaging costs are mimimized, the same packaging, glass, is used hundred of times

+ Hygene questions can be solved if to apply the same system as for washing machines at home. Not to wash one by one, but as soon as stock is ready

- Cost for vending machines maintenance

- Water and enerfy supply costs

- Costs to replace and return broken glass

I dont think we need to revive exactly the same system, but a vending machine using a returnable packaging can be an interesting idea.

Just to mention here we had another interesting solutions in the USSR. According to my mom, food scrap was separately  collected in a one big bin and taken off once a week. Of course, food scrap was free of plastic. Because we simply didn't have it.

And now, 30+ years later, my country don't even have recycling infrastructure.  All the waste goes to landfills or get burned. We didn't even need to invent new things, we had quiet an effective system before.


Comments (3)

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How can this be improved?
Kate Rushton
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  • Hi Olga! I like the idea of vending machines. I was thinking of something similar as well. What would be the biggest challenge for implementing a vending machine solution?

    Olga Romma
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  • Hi Kate! I've just noticed you posted Algrama example on dispensers. Great! I haven't heard about that.
    Thanks for the question!
    I guess one of the challenge is to create a feeling that a person doesn;t lose time while staying close to a machine since she should return a packging. So, it would most appropriate for the places where people came to spent some time like parks, concerts, etc.. To apply to railway stations and the like places, it would more difficult, so a special concept of not losing time should be created.
    For example, to support 'on the way' and 'take with you' concept, which is so much appreciated by people now, a solution can be that the glass/ or other returnable packaging can be returned at another machine or point.
    2nd solution is allow to fill people's personal tare.
    Besides, i think there should be a different ingineering solution for the machine itself, since i guess maintenance and service costs are high