Unbottling Water - Eliminating plastic waste generated by bottled water
Bottled water. It’s everywhere. According to industry estimates, it is now the single largest beverage category in the world by volume. And for a good reason. It is zero-calorie, safe, portable, fashionable, and some spring waters claim therapeutic benefits. But even bottled water has its dark side…. plastic waste, tons and tons of it.
I have a confession to make. I played a small role in popularizing plastic single-use bottled water. Because I was the global director for bottled water at The Coca Cola Company in the early 2000s. But back then we had no idea that it would contribute so significantly to the problem of plastic pollution. Now I know better. And the good news is that companies know it too. Nestle has announced huge investments to convert to recycled plastic, Dasani is testing water dispensers and water in aluminum cans.
At Ubuntoo, we list many promising new technologies, consumer awareness, and new business models that are transforming the drinking water segment. And hopefully, one day will help replace billions of single-use plastic bottles, many of which litter our environment and float in the oceans. Read on to see some examples of these innovations and the companies behind them.
Although water filter technologies have been around for a while, they are mainly focused on the end consumer for home use. But away from home, few people take the effort to carry a reusable bottle of water around with them. Till recently plastic bottled water was the most convenient, affordable and safe way to get water while on the go, at hotels, restaurants, and at work. Not anymore. Thanks to the internet of things, breakthroughs in materials, new filter technologies and innovative business models, a new breed of entrepreneurs is finding ways to offer safe, affordable, great tasting and convenient water away from home. Especially in emerging markets where public sources of water are highly suspect.
Some examples of solutions that are gaining ground include:
- Water ATMs and automated kiosks in public places that dispense high quality water for a low cost to consumers who bring their own refillable bottles, often enabled with digital technologies that connect through mobile phones
- Water as a service, often found in offices and other commercial establishments, are IOT enabled water dispensers designed specifically for institutional customers, replacing clunky 20-liter jars while remotely monitoring quality
- Atmospheric water generators that range from electricity powered condenser systems to solar warmth powered desiccant based solutions. These are especially useful in disaster zones, remote areas, and places without access to piped water
- Reusable Glass Bottles, packaged in micro-bottling plants for captive consumption or local area distribution. These are becoming popular in 5-Star hotels and other premium institutional customers
None of these is a silver bullet solution that can single-handedly address the environmental problems caused by littered bottles of water. However, each has a role to play in areas where their unique strengths are an advantage. See below for a sample of companies listed on Ubuntoo. Do write to us for help to select the right solution for your needs, including many in our database that are not listed in our website.
I hope you will encourage them by buying their services, investing in them or contributing to their growth story in some other way. Do write to us with your thoughts and feedback.