Centimeo, machines that recycle small change

Posted on 23 October 2017.

Centimeo creates value with an unexploited resource - the small coins that weigh down our wallets and accumulate in the bottom of our drawers.

Did you know it costs 4 cents to make a 1 cent coin? Small denomination coins are the only coins that cost more to produce than their face value. But millions of cents are no longer in circulation because they are hidden away in our pockets or in the bottom of our drawers. We give them so little value that we don’t even bother to stoop down and pick them up in the street! But because they are essential for retailers, it forces the French state to make1 billion small coins at a loss every year.
Based on this observation, the Centimeo team developed small vending machines that only accept cents and sell delicious products. For example, you can use 1, 2 and 5 cent pieces, as well as 10, 20 and 50 cents to buy individual chewing gums, chocolate biscuits or caramels.
The Centimeo concept is based on giving the little used euro cents back their value, getting them back in circulation and offering consumers the opportunity to spend them on “made in France” solidarity purchases. In these Centimini distributors you’ll find chewing gums made by a small family business in Saint-Hilaire-de-Loulay in the Vendée, cakes traditionally made by a Normandy-based biscuit factory in Lonlay-l'Abbaye, and caramels made with Guérande salt and Isigny crème fraiche from the Cotentin.
In a circular economy approach, the cents collected in the machines are sorted and reconditioned before going back into the local economy and being redistributed to local stores and banks. And what’s more Centimeo creates jobs because its small machines are installed and replenished by young people on work programs in partnership with organizations such as the Ecole de la 2e Chance.
Created by Benjamin Dupays in 2011, the start-up now has some ten employees and recycles 15 tonnes of coins per year. Centimini distributors can be found in universities, hospitals, shopping malls and businesses, as well as in train and subway stations thanks to partnerships with SNCF and RATP. Centimeo's aims to install its install machines in all living spaces.