Mary Freyer, manager of Jiffy Mart on West Main Street in Westminster, demonstrates the new recycling machine located in front of the store.
Mary Freyer, manager of Jiffy Mart on West Main Street in Westminster, demonstrates the new recycling machine located in front of the store. (KEN KOONS/STAFF PHOTOs , Carroll County Times)

Jiffy Marts in Carroll now have four of 4,000 recycling machines available nationwide by PepsiCo that were designed to reward those who recycle and to donate money to a program for wounded veterans.

The Dream Machines, which were developed by PepsiCo and Waste Management and released in April 2010, encourage recycling by giving users coupons and points that they can collect on a membership card toward larger prizes from greenopolis.com, an interactive online community dedicated to recycling, resource management and offering rewards for recycling, including deals and discounts for more than 3,000 businesses nationwide.

Tom Moser, general manager of Jiffy Mart, said the company had been looking for a cost-effective way to bring recycling to its stores, which had only been operating a cardboard recycling program.

Moser said he was in a ROCS convenience store, a company based in Martinsburg, W.Va., when he came across a Dream Machine. After a little research, he contacted PepsiCo and learned more about them, then decided to pursue getting four of the machines for Jiffy Mart stores in Hampstead, Finksburg and two in Westminster.

"Our thinking was [customers are] coming into our store a lot of times with cans and bottles and just throwing them in the trash as they get out of their car, but what better way to recycle than you put it in a recycling machine, and help the environment out and help yourself out a little at the same time," said Dwayne Cover, business manager of Jiffy Mart.

The machines were delivered Thursday then set up by Dream Machine staff Friday, who also gave a brief tutorial on them to some Jiffy Mart staff members, Moser said.

Mary Freyer, manager of the Jiffy Mart on West Main Street in Westminster, said she and other staff members are excited about the new machines.

"I think it's a really user-friendly machine," Freyer said, "even the registration part of it."

Users can sign up with the machine and get a membership card, which can also be used as a key tag, to track their points with the system. Members are rewarded one to five points for each item they recycle, Freyer said, which the machine can differentiate when users scan the barcode on a plastic bottle or can before entering it in the machine.

"What I like most is where the money's going to," Freyer said of the value of the recycled goods.

PepsiCo has committed to donating $500,000 a year to the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities program, and an additional $250,000 for every 10 million pounds of materials collected through the Dream Machines, according to a fact sheet from the company. Through the bootcamp program, post-9/11 disabled veterans can receive free training in an entrepreneurship and small business management so they can start their own businesses.

While the Dream Machines are a part of PepsiCo, they will accept bottles and cans from all manufacturers, Moser said.

According to PepsiCo's fact sheet, Pepsi has made a public commitment to form partnerships to help increase the U.S. beverage container recycling rate to 50 percent by 2018. Currently less than a third of plastic beverage containers are recycled each year, and according to Keep America Beautiful, another member in the Dream Machines partnership, only 12 percent of public spaces are equipped with recycling receptacles, indicating a need for greater availability of recycling bins.

Moser is expecting it can take some time for the Dream Machines to catch on, he said, so for awhile the machines may only need to be emptied once a week. Jiffy Mart was able to get Waste Management to work with Jiffy Mart's current trash haulers to work together on the new recycling operations, he said.

While at first he was concerned that enthusiastic points-chasers would bring all of their recyclables from home to the machines and cause it to fill up too fast, Moser said the PepsiCo reps said they haven't seen that be a problem at other locations.

Visitors who have recyclables but don't want to take the time to register a membership account with the machine are still welcome to use the machines without a rewards card, Cover said.

"They don't have to be a subscriber or have the loyalty card to do that, instead of throwing it in the trash, they can throw it in the recycling machine," he said.

County Recycling Manager Maria Myers was excited to learn about the new recycling machines, even though she is not sure if the recycled goods will come to Carroll County's Northern Landfill or somewhere outside of the county to be processed.

"It's a positive step for the county," Myers said. "I'm hoping people do the right thing."