High-tech bottle depot in Bowness sorts, counts and issues refund 10 times quicker


A new bottle depot in Bowness is adapting smart technology to make recycling easier.

Bowridge Bottle Depot features a fully automated system that sorts and counts containers more efficiently and provides accurate refunds. 

That means shorter wait times and no shortchanging, says general manager Kulwant Dhillon.

“This technology sorts and counts 86 per cent of our stream that customers bring in,” he said.

“So it takes away the workload off our employees as well as provides accurate refunds to our customers in the shortest time.”

Dhillon says the system can process a 400-container parcel in about one minute, compared with about 10 minutes at a traditional depot. 

Bowridge Bottle Depot workers rely on automated machinery to do most of the work. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC )

He said the smart technology had to be calibrated specially for the local market.

“This technology is from Norway. But they only handle the circular containers, so we had to adapt to the mixed containers that are present in Alberta,” Dhillon said.

“This is the first hybrid of this technology in North America.”

Randy Dutchak says he has stopped by a few times to use the service and check out the high-tech gear.

New technology makes bottle sorting much quicker at the Bowridge Bottle Depot in northwest Calgary. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC )

“It seems faster right now. I have to admit that it seems much faster, so that part is really good. It’s just cool to watch,” he said.

Beyond smart technology, the building itself features carbon filters to mask the bad smells, and high ceilings to reduce the noise. 

Dhillon says he wanted to change the negative perception that some people have of bottle depots.

“Recycling doesn’t have to be dingy and stinky.… As recycling is becoming more important in our daily lives, we needed to make that experience a lot better,” he said.

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