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Yale-New Haven credits the machines with improving its sustainability efforts.

By installing its first group of automated reverse-vending machines that collect plastic and aluminum beverage cans for recycling, Yale-New Haven Hospital, New Haven, Conn., staff is doing its share to help the environment.

The hospital recently installed three of the machines, made by Norwegian company Tomra (, in high-traffic areas of the hospital to encourage patients, staff and visitors to recycle their empty beverage containers. The automated recyclers look like and occupy about as much space as a regular vending machine except, as the name says, they work in "reverse."

The user places an empty container in an opening in the machine where it reads the bar code. If the machine is programmed to accept the container, a slot opens and the user drops it in. The machine flashes a message when it has reached its capacity of about 500 containers, informing housekeeping staff that the bin holding the materials needs to be emptied.

Each machine costs about $8,000, and is designed so an ad can be sold for its front surface.

"We needed a clean, space-saving technology that is easy to use by our catering staff, medical personnel and visitors," says Alan Tuchmann, waste and hazardous waste recycling coordinator, Yale-New Haven Hospital. "We are thrilled to have found a recycling approach that will promote a healthy and sustainable facility."