Beverage giants Coca-Cola and Pepsi are separately developing high-tech water refill stations that invite customers to refill their own bottles for free, with the option to purchase flavors and carbonation for small fees.
The drink companies hope these machines can effectively reduce packaging waste, not only for the beverage brands but also for the diverse industries that sell them.
“We understand that people in the future are going to be looking for package-less delivery of our products. This is especially true of bottled water,” Jon Radtke, water sustainability program director and chief hydrogeologist at Coca-Cola North America said during a keynote at the recent Environmental Leader & Energy Manager Conference (ELEMCON) in Denver.
To that end, Coca-Cola has been piloting the Dasani PureFill station. A successful pilot on the Georgia Institute of Technology campus in 2017 was followed by installations at Ohio State University and the University of Central Florida. The company said in late April that additional locations are eyeing rollouts in the coming months.
PepsiCo has been testing its own systems. Options in the company’s Beyond the Bottle initiative include the Aquafina Water Station. Last year the company set up 30 prototypes in the market, including three at Penn State University, Vending Times reported.
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“It surprised me how quickly people shifted over to being open to a refill station,” John Marler, vice president of energy and environment for AEG Worldwide, said during a panel about waste at ELEMCON. He mentioned that his colleague, Cameron Marcotte, who was also on the panel, had put a water bottle refill station in the 1st Bank Center.
Marler called the refill stations that Coca-Cola and Pepsi are developing “disruptive technology” because they offer flavor shots for a small transaction fee.
“I’m hoping to see more examples of that,” he said. “It’s environmentally preferable, but it also gives customers options and ensures that people are making money somewhere along the line.”
Stay tuned for more updates from #ELEMCON19.