a red and white machine with Lafayette College's logo and recycling icons stands in Farinon

A new reverse vending machine has been installed in Farinon

This August, recycling was taken to the next level at Lafayette College with the installation of an Atlas Reverse Vending Machine in the Farinon Student Center atrium. The reverse vending machine was installed in partnership between Lafayette’s Office of Sustainability, Bon Appetit, and ABARTA Coca-Cola, a Coca-Cola distributor that sponsored the project. The machine accepts plastic bottles and aluminum cans, and it is the first of its kind in Pennsylvania. 

The reverse vending machine aims to engage the campus community in efforts to foster recycling on campus and increase waste diversion. The machine has sensor technology, which allows it to identify recyclables as they enter through the conveyor belt opening. Only plastic bottles and aluminum cans are accepted, decreasing the possibility of trash contamination in the recycling stream.

Once a bottle or can is accepted by the machine, it is crushed. This reduces the item’s size, making more room for additional bottles and cans, and reducing how often the machine needs to be serviced. “Not only does this decrease the labor needed to empty the machine, it also minimizes the number of truck trips required to haul recyclable materials, in line with the College’s decarbonization efforts,” says Delicia Nahman, Lafayette’s director of sustainability.

The machine also allows for promotions and challenges through an interactive screen display. Students can compete for the highest recycling rates or win prizes for their participation.

“Engagement is key to a successful recycling strategy,” says Samantha Smith, Lafayette’s sustainability outreach and engagement manager. “Often people want to recycle but don’t feel they have the time to learn the recycling rules. This machine not only shows our community what should be recycled, but they have fun doing it, leading to a retention of knowledge and higher likelihood to practice the behavior again.”

members of the Lafayette community stand with partners from Coca-Cola with the new reverse vending machine in Farinon

Samantha Smith, sustainability outreach and engagement manager (far right), and Christopher Brown, general manager of Bon Appétit Management Company (second from right) with partners from from Coca-Cola and Atlas RVM Systems with the College’s new reverse vending machine.

This initiative demonstrates ABARTA Coca-Cola’s commitment to sustainability as a partner with the College and accompanies several zero-waste initiatives underway on campus. 

“ABARTA Coca-Cola is proud to support Lafayette’s recycling and sustainability efforts,” says Jim Dinderman, ABARTA Coca-Cola’s president. “One of our company’s core values is ‘Risk-Taking, Innovation, and Learning.’ This initiative is a great example of how our innovation endeavors can have broad ripple effects to benefit our communities.”

Media coverage

  • WFMZ-TV interviewed Samantha Smith about the new reverse vending machine. Watch the segment.

Sustainability at Lafayette

Making our world a better place

The Office of Sustainability implements campus-wide strategies to transition Lafayette College to lead the just transition to a low-carbon future. We engage the campus community through educational programming, outreach, and events to highlight our shared responsibility in making our world a better place.

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