Energy efficiency in vending machines is becoming a competitive weapon as locations seek environmental goals when letting bids or securing contracts. Over the past several years, efforts in the vending/OCS industry have provided the basis for some to gain a competitive advantage through enhanced imaging based on energy conservation and stainability initiatives.
The Coca-Cola Co., for example, has announced a strategic directive that its vending equipment use half as much energy in the year 2010 as it consumed in 2000.
Various aspects of the vending/OCS industry lend themselves well to such initiatives, as evidenced by company Websites and sales literature promoting energy efficient solutions. As a result, many operators prefer office and warehouse locations that are energy efficient while striving to operate a fleet of smartly fueled vehicles to manage environmentally-friendly, unattended points of sale. The focus being to implement “green” into multiple aspects of the vending/OCS channel and thereby derive energy reductions, cost savings, and sensible recycling practices, whenever and wherever possible.
The vending/OCS industry represents a largely untapped opportunity for energy conservation through efficient practices.
The implementation of more effective and economical temperature and lighting techniques on vending equipment, for example, can produce significant energy and money savings. Experts project a possible savings of 13,000 kilowatt hours with additional, related savings in other areas (e.g., carbon dioxide reduction) within a 10-year period for a cold beverage vending machine, 10 years being the average life of the machine.
Given it is estimated that there are 4 million temperature-controlled vending machines and 10 million glass door coolers in the U.S., significant savings are possible. As a general rule, energy efficient products tend to cost more initially but often have a shorter return on investment based on utility cost savings than a comparatively less efficient model.
According to the 2007 Federal Register, cost per electric kilowatt hour is estimated at 10.65 cents. At this rate, it costs only 19 cents per day to operate a snack vending machine and about 57 cents a day to operate a glassfront beverage vending machine.
The vending/OCS industry has been aggressive in reducing energy consumption since 2004, which marked the adoption of inaugural EnergyStar regulations. To date, a significant volume of vending equipment is greater than 65 percent more energy efficient than similar products produced prior to EnergyStar.
Additionally, outside agencies such as Green Peace and numerous utility companies have publicly acknowledged the gains made by vending machine manufacturers. Unfortunately, some segments of the industry have been slower to adopt eco-friendly applications than others.
The primary reasons typically attributed to the lack of eco-adoption in the vending channel are: 1) In most cases, the vending machine owner is not the entity responsible for paying for the power to operate the device; and 2) The end user (location) responsible for paying the cost of operation is often unaware of the expense incurred, despite the fact that usage may cost $100 to 300 per year per machine. Accelerated adoption of energy efficient practices may well hinge on split or shared incentives for vending channel participants.
WHAT IS “GREEN”?
What does being “green” mean? Although the term has become a popular descriptor, there is no standard definition for “green” beyond its attachment to an eco-friendly business. Given the many building, transportation fuel, and governmental equipment guidelines and the industry specific devices companies have developed, being green can range from using hybrid fuels, to low-watt lighting, to tightly controlling temperatures, to stocking organic food products, to waste recycling, to overall reduction in carbon emissions.