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A Recycling Revolution

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.

Launched on Earth Day (April 22) 2014, phase 1 of the Re-Centre pilot project consisted of two automated bag drop redemption centres. A test group of 2,500 members of the public got to sign up to use these depots for their recycling needs, collecting their empty beverage containers in bags and dropping them off whenever they pleased.

Over the three-year project, the Re-Centre depots in the Moncton area were able to serve customers with at least three bags (150 containers) in 30 seconds or less over 95% of the time. The Re-Centre model proved that customers prefer better hours of operation for redemption centres (50% of Re-Centre visits occurred when neighbouring redemption centres were closed). Furthermore, the improvements that the Re-Centre model offers 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.

Since October 1, 2017, the Re-Centre pilot project has entered Phase 2, which is set to run until March 31, 2019. Encorp Atlantic is collaborating with a local redemption centre to see how well the Re-Centre model performs in a real-time redemption centre environment, collect missing data and fine-tune some of its components. This redemption centre is responsible for daily operations of the two Re-Centre depots. Encorp manages communications, member services, and member accounts.

What Is Re-Centre Testing? 

Phase 1 of the Re-Centre pilot project, with its test group of 2,500 participants, allowed Encorp Atlantic to research and test for the following:

  • Evaluate public response to the drop-off concept;
  • Assess value of using a standardized bag (average containers per bag);
  • Review payment method options and customer tolerance to online payment instead of cash in hand (PayPal, electronic funds transfer & other);
  • Cost and final design of mobile drop-off re-centre units (>3M/containers/year);
  • Cost of managing containers (UBC);
  • Measure percentage of all container types in New Brunswick;
  • Technology options as customer interface (go forward strategy);
  • Assess alternative energy technologies for collection facilities;
  • Measure consumer patterns (time of day, day of the week, number of bags per visit).

Encorp continues to collect data to improve the Re-Centre model now that the project has entered into phase 2.