TOMRA Sorting GmbH

TOMRA Sorting GmbH

As a technology leader, TOMRA Sorting Solutions continues to be pioneer in sensor-based sorting in the waste and metal recycling industries. Our goal: support our customers to optimize their sustainability and operational value. Our method: use our established and renowned industry expertise to provide state-of-the-art machines and exceptional service throughout the entire process.

Company details

Drengsrudhagen 2 , Asker , 1385 Norway
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Business Type:
Industry Type:
Recycling Systems
Market Focus:
Globally (various continents)
Year Founded:
Over 1000
100,000,000 - 1,000,000,000 €

TOMRA was founded on an innovation in 1972 that began with the design, manufacturing and sale of reverse vending machines (RVMs) for automated collection of used beverage containers. Today TOMRA continues to innovate and provide cutting-edge solutions for optimal resource productivity within two main business areas: Collection Solutions (reverse vending and material recovery) and Sorting Solutions (food, recycling, and mining).


With an installed base of approximately 82,000 systems in over 60 markets, TOMRA Reverse Vending is the world's leading provider of reverse vending solutions. Every year TOMRA facilitates the collection of more than 35 billion empty cans and bottles and provides retailers and other customers with an effective and efficient way of collecting, sorting and processing these containers.

TOMRA's material recovery business includes the pick-up, transportation, and processing of used beverage containers in North America, as well as the subsequent brokerage of the processed material to recyclers. The revenue stream in this business area is derived from fees received from bottlers based on the volume of containers processed. Currently, TOMRA Material Recovery processes over 340,000 metric tons of containers annually.


TOMRA Sorting Solutions creates sensor-based technologies for sorting and process analysis within the recycling, mining, food and other industries. With more than 13,740 installations worldwide, TOMRA Sorting Solutions offers a unique range of complementary sorting technologies, the most extensive service base, and the widest geographic and market segment coverage in the industry.

TOMRA Food is the leading provider of optical sorting and processing technology for the fresh and processed food industry. With approximately 8,230 sorting installations globally, TOMRA Sorting's food business is instrumental in optimizing the world's food utilization, safety and quality.

TOMRA Recycling is a global leader in its field and has pioneered the automation of waste sorting. Its flexible sorting systems perform an extensive range of sorting tasks and are able to both prepare and sort various types of metals and waste for either material recycling or energy recovery. Currently TOMRA Sorting Recycling has an installed base of close to 5,370 units across more than 40 markets.

TOMRA Mining provides a complete product portfolio for efficient material separation in various minerals and ore applications such as processing of industrial minerals, diamonds and gemstone recovery, and metal recovery from slag etc. With approximately 140 installations worldwide, TOMRA Sorting's mining business helps to extend the lifetime of mining operations, increasing the value of the deposit.

Altogether TOMRA has approximately 95,700 installations in over 80 markets worldwide and had total revenues of about 7.4 billion NOK in 2017. The TOMRA Group employs roughly 3,420 people globally, and is publicly listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange. (OSE: TOM).

The Resource Revolution

As a planet we are running to the end of our leash. The world population will increase by 30% over the next 40 years. An additional seventy million people are entering the middle class every year, increasing overall consumption levels. Global resources are under unprecedented pressure – we need a resource revolution.

Resource productivity must increase to ensure sustainable development. Over the next 40 years, 30% more people will need to be fed with, at best, today’s availability of farmland. Something needs to change.

Rethinking how we obtain, use, reuse and optimize the world’s resources is the right path at the right time. This is how the next revolution begins.

TOMRA's Mission

TOMRA's ambition is to be a leader in the resource revolution by creating sensor-based solutions for optimal resource productivity. Providing smart solutions for optimizing our resources – sourcing them, using them, stewarding them, reclaiming them, recycling them and revitalizing them – is key to the resource revolution.

This is not new to us. TOMRA has been in this business for more than 40 years. We know that in order to move forward, we all need to rethink and rework how things have been in the past. Every day we’re focused on transforming how the world obtains, uses and reuses its resources.

In short we aim to help our customers obtain more, use less and reuse resources (better business) and make the planet more sustainable (better environment).

TOMRA’s core values are viewed as one of the most critical aspects of our company culture, reflecting the expectations for how we conduct ourselves and approach our daily tasks.

Our values reflect the best in each and everyone one of us. Our values are critical to everything we do, how we conduct ourselves, and how we lead.

In practicing our shared values we impact how we are perceived by our stakeholders and in turn our ability to achieve business success and growth. Our values serve as the glue that binds us together throughout our widespread operations, providing employees a sense of common fellowship regardless of position, location or cultural background.

Dare. Explore. Advance.

Engage. Inspire. Enjoy.

Commit. Deliver. Care.

Innovation has always been at the core of TOMRA.

A spirit of entrepreneurship, a passion for innovation and a focus on finding solutions guide TOMRA to this day. From the world’s first reverse vending machine in 1972, all the way to providing the most innovative sensor-based sorting solutions today, TOMRA has continuously redefined what it means to be innovative.

In this section you can find information about TOMRA's senior management team and the company's Board of Directors. 

TOMRA has been a leader in creating solutions for optimal resource productivity for four decades, but at no time has our leadership been more critical than it is at this moment. To us, leadership is about daring to rebel against the way we consume, waste and discard today. The world is at the dawn of a resource revolution – and TOMRA is a leading force in driving this movement and working toward the transition to a circular economy.

Creating value through two strong business areas

Beginning with the invention of the world’s first reverse vending machine in 1972, all the way to providing the most innovative sensor-based sorting solutions today, TOMRA has continuously redefined what it means to be resourceful.

TOMRA has experienced rapid growth throughout its 45-year history. Growth has been driven by a number of strategic shifts involving a combination of organic initiatives and acquisitions. The sum of these developments has shaped a company that today is organized in two strong business areas: TOMRA Collection Solutions and TOMRA Sorting Solutions.

We know that what matters to our customers is to increase productivity and revenues, while ensuring the best quality products. In order to be positioned at the forefront to meet our customers’ demands, we have gone through a transformation. We have gathered all company brands into one, strong, unified TOMRA, focused on pursuing one common mission: to create sensor-based solutions for optimal resource productivity. 


Reverse vending – transforming behavior

TOMRA is the undeniable leader in the field of reverse vending of used beverage containers with an estimated 75% market share globally. With a solutions portfolio that is able to fit almost any need, we’re optimizing the handling of used containers in a wide range of business environments. Our continuous research, development and innovation ensure that our customers will have the benefit of the best lifetime value and highest operational ease of any system out there.

The reverse vending customer value proposition:

  • Reduced costs
  • Clearing of deposits
  • High consumer convenience

See Reverse Vending for more information.

Material recovery services – transforming efficiency

In Europe, container collection happens in cooperation between the beverage industry and food retail. In the US, there is no such infrastructure. Therefore, TOMRA has developed material recovery services as an enabler to sell reverse vending machines. From logistics to materials processing, and materials marketing and trading to recycling, out Materials Recovery business is integrated throughout the container recycling value chain, and has an estimated 60% market share in markets served.

The Material Recovery customer value proposition:

  • Supply chain management
  • Accountability and integrity
  • Environmental benefits

See Material Recovery for more information.


The three business streams within TOMRA Sorting Solutions – Food, Recycling, and Mining, come together in a common sensor-based technology portfolio based on a core technology that is the eyes and brains of sorting and processing.

The TOMRA Sorting strategy

TOMRA Sorting focuses on geographical expansion through aggressive targeting of promising regions and markets, and leveraging market presence across entire portfolio. Further, we engage in M&A to consolidate market and enter new business streams.

Maintaining technology leadership position by continuing to invest heavily in R&D, bringing new and enabling technology to the market, and further development of partner network is also a key focus.

We aim to establish cost leadership from utilization of market leader position to maximize economies of scale effect, and effective sourcing in combination with product friendly R&D.

Food – Securing quality, efficiency, and productivity

TOMRA Food provides world-class sorting, peeling and process analytics solutions for a wide range of food production applications. TOMRA’s Food business stream has an estimated 25% market share (within both the bulk sorting and lane sorting sectors), helping its customers maximize yield and streamline their operations to ensure safe, high-quality food for consumers. 

The Food customer value proposition:

  • Operational efficiency reduces cost
  • Assured consumer food quality and safety
  • Increased revenues

See Food for more information.

Recycling – transforming efficiency and quality

TOMRA’s Recycling business offers more than 25 different sorting applications that separate a wide range of valuable fractions, including plastics, metals, and paper from waste. Our systems reduce the need for the extraction of primary raw materials, making them an important part of the Resource Revolution. Recycling has an estimated 55-65% market share and an ever growing relevance in a world where resource productivity must increase in order to ensure sustainable development.

The Recycling customer value proposition:

  • Reduces costs
  • Increases revenues
  • Ensures consistent, stable and fast operation
  • Increased access to resources

See Recycling for more information.

Mining – Finding mindful solutions

Material handling, product recognition, and pressured air rejection are brought together by TOMRA Sorting Solutions Mining in a robust and tested system, which reliably separates valuable mineral ores from waste rock. TOMRA’s Mining business stream has an estimated 40%-60% market share and is already contributing to more energy-efficient and cost-effective pre-concentrations, as well as to material recovery, in what is still a market in its early youth.

The Mining customer value proposition:

  • Cost savings
  • Environmental benefits

See Mining for more information.

TOMRA’s mission is to create sensor-based solutions for optimal resource productivity, making sustainability profitable – with increased relevance and meaning.

Our vision is to lead the resource revolution within the business streams of reverse vending, material recovery, food, recycling, mining, and specialty products – enabling better utilization of the world’s natural resources. We are using the power of business to do good.

TOMRA is committed to doing business ethically and responsibly. We operate with zero-tolerance for corruption and comply with all applicable laws and regulations in all areas where we do business. As TOMRA continues to expand globally, we recognize the importance of preparing for new challenges that we are likely to meet in our business activities. 

TOMRA was founded on an innovation for return of empty beverage containers more than forty years ago. In a small shed in Asker, Norway, the brothers Petter and Tore Planke created a solution to a problem: a local grocer wanted a machine that could quickly and easily take back empty bottles. This was the beginning of TOMRA.


On April 1, 1972, TOMRA was officially founded by the Planke family. By the end of 1972, TOMRA had installed 29 machines in Norway. The success of those machines soon began to generate interest abroad. By 1973, TOMRA had entered into several distribution agreements for markets in Europe and the United States.

From 1972 to 1976, TOMRA’s revenues grew from 700,000 NOK to 6.9 million NOK. The first major sales breakthrough happened in 1974 when the Swedish state-owned wine retailer Systembolaget ordered 100 machines, specially adapted to the conveyor equipment that was already installed in their sales outlets.

When the bottle recognition technology was released in 1977, growth really began to take off. The launch of the first self-programmable RVM, the Tomra SP, positioned TOMRA far ahead of competition and well prepared for the entry into the 1980s.


After the stock listing in 1985, optimism ruled as TOMRA positioned itself for growth in the US. Macro-economic conditions wanted otherwise. The Soviet Union dumped millions of tons of aluminum on the world market in 1985, leading to a dramatic drop in the aluminum price. As the aluminum prices plummeted by over 60 percent in four months, there was little incentive left to recycle aluminum cans in non-deposit markets. The substantial financial losses suffered by TOMRA forced the company to abandon most of its US activities in 1986.

Despite losses in the US, TOMRA’s financial supporters still believed in the business potential of the company. From pre-tax losses of 129.6 million NOK in 1986, TOMRA bounced back to deliver a profit of 10.3 million NOK the year after. During this period, TOMRA returned to its roots, concentrating its efforts on solidifying its strong European position and maintaining its leading edge in product development.

The last three years of the 1980s saw TOMRA introduce its next generation RVM, the Tomra 300, revenues increase with 62 percent from 1987 to 1989, and a careful reentry into the US, generating a revenue of 12.1 million NOK in 1989.


The acquisition of material handling company NEROC in 1992 marked the entry into a new era. Before this acquisition, all of TOMRA’s revenues had come from sales and service of RVMs. TOMRA now begun an effort to evolve its business model into the full container recycling value chain, which includes collection, pick-up, processing, material trading, recycling and production of new containers.

During the 1990s, measures were taken to improve efficiency and reduce costs. While the most significant was the gathering of all production in the new headquarters in Norway, efforts were also begun to make the production assembly method more efficient by allowing for delivery of machine components only when an actual order was being prepared for assembly.

In the last five years of the decade, TOMRA’s annual revenues increased from 501 million NOK to 2.1 billion NOK, representing an average annual increase of 46 percent. The most significant factor behind this growth was TOMRA’s growing presence in the United States. By 1999, sales in the US accounted for more than half of total revenues.

On the technology side, a new milestone was reached in 1997 with the launch of the T600. Not since the launch of the Tomra SP in 1977 had the market been introduced to a greater leap in RVM technology. Incorporating a number of innovations including a new container recognition system, horizontal container in-feed, a built-in modem and an advanced graphics display, the T600 introduced a more versatile and user-friendly  platform that could easily be configured to meet the need of the shop.

By the end of the decade, TOMRA had developed into a truly international corporation, with over 1700 employees working in 34 different countries and 46 separate markets.


During the first 30 years of its history, TOMRA focused on growing reverse vending business in markets with deposit systems for beverage packaging. In 2000, the company saw that it would need to develop a more comprehensive business platform in order to meet its growth targets.

Efforts included reverse vending projects in Japan and Brazil, but the most notable developments came through a number of strategic acquisitions: TiTech in 2004, the Orwak Group in 2005, Commodas in 2006 and Ultrasort in 2008. Revenues within this new segment of Industrial Processing Technology more than doubled from 379 million NOK in 2005, to 793 million NOK in 2008.

The major event of the decade was the implementation of a deposit system for non-refillable containers in Germany, which got TOMRA flying into the latter half of the period. In 2006, TOMRA delivered approximately 8,800 new reverse vending systems to Germany alone. That accounts for about thrice as much as total volume worldwide in a normal year at the time, and Germany has been a key market for TOMRA ever since.


Having worked on developing process analytics for the food industries with QVision, it was not a far-fetched idea for TOMRA to venture further into the food segment. The first acquisition of the decade, Odenberg, brought to the table unique, patented technology and leading market positions in several fast-growing segments of the food sorting and processing industry. With the acquisition of BEST Sorting in 2012, TOMRA gained a position as one of the world’s leading food sorters and an expanded technology portfolio unrivalled by competitors.

Through a significant number of acquisitions, TOMRA had grown into a considerably global company since the first part of the 2000s. In order to galvanize the combined strength of the various subsidiaries, it was decided in 2010 that TOMRA would embark on a strategic process to gather all companies in the Group under one brand umbrella – TOMRA. As part of this strategic process, a new mission and vision was launched in 2012. The rebranding process was concluded in 2015.