Tomra Systems ASA (TOMRA) and Sumitomo Corporation (Sumitomo) have today signed a Partnership Agreement to jointly develop the market for reverse vending machine (RVM) solutions for automated collection and recycling of used beverage containers in Japan.
The signing of the Partnership Agreement represents the conclusion of the cooperation and discussions between the two companies since late 2004. Sumitomo and TOMRA have conducted joint market research and business development activities in Japan, including an initial pilot project in the Tokyo area called ‘Ecolife’ in 2004-2005. As a result of these efforts, Nakano Ward as the first ward in Tokyo installed Tomra RVM solutions for collection and recycling of PET bottles in 2005. Other Tokyo wards are now considering doing the same, and several pilots are currently in operation.
Sumitomo and TOMRA will contribute significant financial resources as well as personnel to the partnership. Marketing and awareness building is priority number one in the partnership. The short-term objective is to install 100 RVMs on a commercial or pilot basis in the coming 12 months. The Tokyo area will be the main target for this initiative as a continued positive development in Tokyo is expected to have significant impact on a potential future nationwide roll-out of RVM-based solutions in Japan. The focus will be on collection and recycling of PET bottles. The reason for this is that PET bottles represent a relatively new type of beverage container packaging in Japan with strong growth in consumption and currently a very high cost of recycling in existing recycling schemes.
Sumitomo and TOMRA are very pleased with the progress made so far during their cooperation and are keen to capitalize on the substantial opportunities that the Japanese market represents for RVM based solutions. The signing of the Partnership Agreement is an important milestone in the two companies’ expanding relationship and will provide a solid platform for what both companies believe is a future large-scale and attractive business. Given a successful development, Tomra and Sumitomo aim to install 2,000 RVMs over the next 3 years in Japan. The total potential for RVMs in Japan given full penetration across the country is estimated at approximately 25,000.