Recyclers need codes to function
Why don't the recycling machines take certain bottles, like Costco's Kirkland bottles? The other day, I took 140 Kirkland bottles to Times Super Market in Kahala and tried to feed the machine, but it wouldn't take the bottles.
Answer: There may have been a problem with the reverse vending machine that day, but it's difficult to pinpoint at this time.
However, the problem also could be that the bottles did not have bar codes that the machines are programmed to read.
It turns out it's not a simple matter of taking any container marked "HI 5" to a reverse vending machine and getting your deposit back.
Dominic Henriques, owner of RRR Recycling Services Hawaii, which operates the reverse vending machines at the Kahala Times, says all his machines are programmed to read bar codes, not the "HI 5."
He also explained that each time a new product comes out, it comes with a different bar code.
STAR-BULLETIN / 2005
A container of recyclable cans and bottles sits at the Hawaii Kai park-and-ride redemption center. Reverse vending machines often will reject recyclable goods without bar codes on them.
"All these manufacturers come up with so many different types of beverages, constantly," he said. "Every time (a new) one comes to the market, we don't get updated by the state, we just get updated as people bring them in."
If the bottle or can is rejected, "we need to take that bar code and download it into our system, to tell the machine to accept that product," Henriques said.
Sometimes, particularly with Costco brands and some of the bottled water brands, such as Dasani, the containers flat out don't have any bar code, he said. Often, too, bottled water sold by the case don't have bar codes.
"If it doesn't have a bar code, the machine will automatically reject them," Henriques said.
Another problem, he said, is that different container sizes of the same product -- 12 ounces versus 20 ounces, for example -- will have different bar codes.
Another example: A lime-flavored beverage will have a different bar code from the unflavored version.
Workers will take information about each new product as it comes in, but the actual downloading of the information into the company's computer system has to be done back at the office.
"Then we have to send it out to every single machine," Henriques said. So, "it's a little bit of a process."
If a machine rejects your bottles, Henriques said to just take them over to the cashier, who will do a hand count.
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