Automated Deposit Return of Returnable Packaging with RFID
  • Automated Deposit Return of Returnable Packaging with RFID
  • Automated Deposit Return of Returnable Packaging with RFID
  • Automated Deposit Return of Returnable Packaging with RFID
Life Cycle Management

Automated Deposit Return of Returnable Packaging with RFID

Cuploop is an Estonian start-up company that develops and manufactures reverse vending machines for the automatic return of reusable packaging and deposit return. The company's objective is to replace single-use packaging with more environmentally friendly reusable packaging, capable of being reused several hundred times.

The company needed a solution for the return of deposits at large events where many people return reusable packaging in a short period of time. The aim is to make the deposit return process as quick and uncomplicated as possible. This includes the return of several packages at the same time as well as a cashless and automatic payment of the deposit.

(Image Source: Cuploop)

Process Requirements

For large events of several hundred to thousands of participants, a solution is needed where the return process of reusable packaging is carried out quickly. The drop-off of reusable packaging, the collection of the packaging from the reverse vending machine, and the cashless payment of the deposit must be completed in a matter of seconds. Otherwise, long lines form in front of the reverse vending machines and customer satisfaction drops.

Regular emptying is necessary in the operation of the vending machines. On the one hand, it is no longer possible to return reusable packaging when the vending machine is full. On the other hand, the packaging contains food and beverage residues, the stench of which has a negative impact on people in the vicinity. Vending machine operators must receive notifications as soon as it is necessary to empty the machine and generally carry out regular emptying process.

Objectives of Cuploop

  • To simplify and accelerate the return process for reusable packaging
  • To refund packaging deposit without cash
  • To capture the filling level of the reverse vending machines and to transmit this information to operators with the request to empty them
  • To extend the service life of reusable packaging
  • To recycle reusable packaging at end of life

The Cuploop Solution

Cuploop deploys RFID-enabled reverse vending machines with NFC terminals for the return of reusable packaging at major events.

All reusable packaging such as food packaging and beverage cups are equipped with RFID tags at the respective event. These enable the identification of each individual package. Visitors receive purchased food and drinks in the tagged packaging and pay a deposit.

Each returnable package is placed in a flap on the vending machine after the food and beverages have been consumed, providing space for multiple packages to be returned at the same time. Each RFID tag on the packages is captured by an RFID reader built into the reverse vending machine, and the deposit amount is calculated exactly according to the number of packages returned. An NFC terminal on the machine is used to pay out the deposit amount without cash by holding either a bank card or an NFC-enabled smartphone up to the terminal. The entire return process takes just a few seconds.

Inside the reverse vending machine is a 360-liter storage container that collects the returned returnable packaging and can hold up to 350 half-liter cups. The fill level is captured and a notification is sent to the operator when the storage container is half full. Another notification is sent when the maximum fill level is reached.

Emptying the return machines is followed by the cleaning of the reusable packaging. Between 200 and 300 cycles of use are possible. At the end of life, each package is recycled, separating the PET of the package from the metal of the RFID tag. Recycling of all used materials is made possible.

Hardware & Software

  • Cuploop – Cuploop Reverse Vending Machine
  • Confidex – RFID Tags
  • Avery Dennison Smartrac – RFID Tags


  • Return process for reusable packaging is simplified and accelerated
  • Packaging deposit is refunded without cash
  • Fill level of the reverse vending machines is captured and this information is transmitted to operators with the request for emptying
  • Lifetime of reusable packaging is extended
  • Reusable packaging is recycled at end of life

Learn More

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