Since its founding on 1 April 1972, TOMRA has progressed from being a pioneer in automated recycling technology to a company offering a diverse range of sensor-based solutions that are helping to lead a cross-industry revolution toward resource sustainability.
Starting in a small shed, brothers Petter and Tore Planke created a solution for a local grocer who wanted an automated machine that could quickly and easily take back used, empty bottles for recycling. By the end of 1972, TOMRA had installed 29 machines in Norway and their successes quickly began to generate interest abroad.
TOMRA has since diversified its offering and expanded its reach. During the first 30 years of its history, the company focused on growing its reverse vending business in markets with deposit systems for beverage packaging. In 2000, the company began developing a more comprehensive business platform and through a number of strategic acquisitions during the past two decades, it has become one of the leading providers of optical sorting technologies for a broad range of materials.
Almost 45 years later, TOMRA noted record revenues of approximately €710m in 2016, with 90,000 systems installed in more than 80 markets worldwide.
TOMRA’s sensor-based solutions are used today in reverse vending, recycling, mining, and food sorting. Recycling applications include numerous waste streams and metals. Optical sorters support plant operators with effective recovery and sorting of valuable secondary resources, while TOMRA’s food sorting and peeling solutions are utilised to boost food processing capacity, quality, safety, yield, and profit.
The company’s mining equipment ensures more efficient recovery of minerals and ores. In 2015, the Lucara Diamond in Botswana was located, the second-largest gem quality diamond in history. TOMRA’s technology is playing helping diverse industries attain efficient business processes, improve resource utilization, and promote a better environment.
TOMRA’s president and chief executive officer (CEO) Stefan Ranstrand said: "Our growth and longevity is due in part to the growing understanding that the world needs to utilise its natural resources in a better way to ensure sustainability. We are proud of the success our company has achieved thus far and look forward to building on this in the years ahead as we continue to develop cutting-edge solutions for helping our customers meet their business needs and contribute to a better and more sustainable future."
TOMRA at 45: two strong business areas
In pursuing its mission to create sensor-based solutions for optimal resource productivity, TOMRA has built a robust company centered on collection solutions (reverse vending and material recovery) and sorting solutions (recycling, mining, and food sorting).
To ensure new technology continues to support businesses and their objectives, it is important to continue focusing on how to transform the way in which the world obtains, uses, and reuses its resources by looking at the next major innovations and how they can support environmental and business objectives.
Optimal resource productivity
Ranstrand continues: "Global resources are under more pressure than ever before.
"A growing population and increasing consumption mean finite resources are being used at an unsustainable pace. The world is consuming more resources and producing more waste than nature can replace or absorb each year. Now, more so than ever, the world needs a resource revolution.
"TOMRA aspires to be a leader in the resource revolution by constantly exploring and enabling new means of optimizing resource productivity. In this way, TOMRA’s sensor-based technology is playing a pivotal role in supporting the circular economy and also helping organisations to increase productivity without having a detrimental impact on the environment."