What happens if you put a full can of soda into the can return machine?

Question is in the title. Surely, can and bottle return machines must have some function to deal with liquid that is left over in the bottles and cans. But what happens if you put a full, unopened can into the return machine?

It goes “foom” instead of just “crunch” and the insides get sprayed with soda. The machines are designed to deal with some sticky residue because no one rinses their cans out.

In Germany the return system is a bit more sophisticated, especially since the machines are usually in the store itself. The machine scans the bottle for the return sign and weighs them so you can’t stick a new, unbought can or bottle in the machine.

I would have thought they weighed them in the US as well, because you’d expect some joker would be trying that every week or two.

DrFidelius, did you actually see that, or are you just assuming that would happen?

The can return what? Is this a regional thing?

This thing that collects cans and prints out a reedeemable receipt for the deposit.

I can neither confirm nor deny my involvement in that incident at Stop and Shop.

Around here (in Michigan), returning cans and bottles is automated and self serve in supermarkets, using a machine like the one Mahaloth linked to. There are machines that accept glass bottles, read the bar code, and shove the bottle in one direction or the other, perhaps sorting them by color, I’m not sure.

Plastic 2-liter bottles are scanned, and crushed by a different machine to save space. ETA: Actually, the one linked to looks more like one of these, but there isn’t that much difference between them from the outside.

The glass bottle return also accepts cans, and crushes them, also to save space.

I’m with you, man. I’ve never seen one of these things in my entire life.

Ask this woman, who did this with 42 unopened cans and bottles of soda she bought with her food stamp card (and made a huge lake of soda in the store) in order to convert them to $4.20 in cash.

Never saw them until I moved to Oregon. In California I think you hafta go down to the recycling plant yourself.

Last time I was in Oregon, this little grocery store by where we were staying sold $20 packs of 24 “surprise beers.” They were of highly mixed quality, but one of them was a damn non-alcoholic beer! I ended up trading that one in unopened for my nickle-- it would have been great revenge if they’d had one of those machines!

I’ve lived in several states, and I’ve never seen anything like that. :dubious: Folks prob’ly talk funny where you’re from, too, don’t they?


My first job was at a grocery store in Oregon. The machines were brand new back in the late 90s. I was almost always put in charge of the bottle room. Those machines broke down all the time. I hated fixing them. While I worked there, no one ever tried to put a full can or bottle through, to my knowledge.

The thing I’ve been wondering is for plastic bottles, if there is any problem with keeping the cap on. I could imagine the sealed air making it harder to crush than if it could easily escape.

Not all such machines crush the bottles and cans. Some of them simply push them to an empty compartment at the back. It wouldn’t be catastrophic if you put a full bottle in such a machine (unless you left the lid off, I guess—in that case there’s the danger of the bottle tipping over).

We have the machines in California.

They are primarily in states where there is a cash refund given (a few cents, usually) for the return of aluminum cans, glass bottles, or plastic bottles.

They aren’t common, because the business lobby has fought hard to prevent many states from enacting laws requiring these deposits.

You can make money by buying cans of soda in a state with a 5cent deposit, and taking them to Michigan where the deposit is 10cents. All you need is a mail truck.

Thank you, Kramer.

Never saw those machines before. We have curbside recycling here; glass and plastic go in blue bags. You have to take your paper to big collection boxes at a local school or library.