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Automated system for handling returned drink containers

Image Number 7 for United States Patent #5988054.

An automated container handling and processing system includes a metal container handling subsystem and a plastic container handling subsystem. Each container subsystem includes a roller conveyor for conveying a plurality of large bins carrying crushed containers derived from reverse vending machines. An automated dumping station receives and inverts the bins sequentially to dump the crushed containers into a central hopper, then sends the bins to a washer which cleans the bins for reuse. A separate belt conveyor receives containers which do not require identification or accounting and conveys them to the central hopper. A second belt conveyor which also leads to the central hopper receives containers from one or more sorting machines which process non-crushed containers from non-RV machine return centers. Each sorting machine is capable of reading a bar code on each container to identify the brand and of providing that information to a central accounting system which keeps track of the number of containers of each brand and credits them to the correct original distributor. The central hopper feeds all containers to a crusher/baler which crushes and bales containers from all three sources.

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