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Monday 18 September 2023

Meet the drink vending machine that offers more choice - and helps the environment

Ever wished you could craft your own drink - and help save the planet from single-use plastic bottles?

Meet Refilled, a Sydney-based start-up that hopes to eventually end the sale of beverages sold in single-use plastic bottles in vending machines.

Starting at sites including Google HQ Sydney, UTS and the University of Sydney, its Refillers are plastic-free vending machine that can be used by anyone with a reusable bottle.

The company hopes to install 100 units around Australia by 2024, aiming to capitalise on the trend of reusable bottles and by giving people more flavour variety and nutritional options than just plain water on tap.

The Refillers are described as "a cross between a fridge and a giant soda stream" and offer chilled still and sparkling drinks in a range of flavours with the ability to add optional boosters such as caffeine, vitamins, and nootropics.

The founders say over 891 billion single-use plastic bottles are produced worldwide every year and fewer than 20% are ever recycled, which makes vending machines a major source of plastic pollution.

A single Refiller can stock 10x more beverages than a typical vending machine so it can also reduce waste and delivery emissions.

Refilled is tracking the number of bottles is has saved in real time, and has created reusable bottles with QR codes that can be scanned at the Refiller and used to pay for drinks – no card, phone or cash required.

To date, Refilled has raised $600k through angel investors and Melt Ventures, an impact VC Fund. It is seeking an additional $1.5 million in its next funding round.

“Refilled is transforming the ordinary, everyday act of drinking water into climate action," says co-founder and CEO Ryan Nelson.

"Most people have good intentions and want to do good for the planet, but not everyone can afford to buy an electric vehicle or install solar panels.

"Armed with just a reusable bottle and a couple of bucks, our Refillers offer an affordable, achievable way to eliminate plastic pollution. If we can replace even a fraction of drinks vending machines, which are an outrageous source of plastic waste, we will stop millions of plastic bottles going to landfill.”

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