Aussie startup Refilled launches to save single-use plastic bottles sold from vending machines
Refilled, a new Sydney-based climate tech startup has been launched with two Australian customers - The University of Technology Sydney and The University of Sydney Union (USU).
Refilled is on a mission to eliminate the colossal single-use plastic bottle waste caused by the $44 billion vending industry, by replacing as many of these machines as possible with their new BYO-Bottle system. The company hopes to capitalise on the dominant trend of reusable bottles, a market now worth $14 billion, by giving people more flavour variety and nutritional options than just plain water on tap. Its 'Refillers' are a cross between a fridge and giant SodaStream. They offer chilled still and sparkling drinks in a range of flavours with the ability to add optional boosters such as caffeine, vitamins, and exercise-focused nootropics.
More than 891 billion single-use plastic bottles are produced worldwide every year and less than 20% are ever recycled, which makes vending machines a major source of plastic pollution. Refilled is on track to build and install 100 Refillers by 2024, which would eliminate upwards of 1 million single-use plastic bottles from ending up in our environment or landfills every year. It aims to eliminate 100m single-use plastic bottles by 2030. Because a single Refiller can stock 10x more beverages than a typical vending machine, it can also dramatically reduce waste and delivery emissions caused by frequent deliveries and restocking of traditional beverages.
University-based customers UTS and USU are looking to offer more sustainable flavoured drink alternatives to students that are much more affordable than than the cost of standard bottled water, while chilled still water is always available for free. Refilled is tracking the number of bottles it 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. Refilled is seeking an additional $1.5 million in its next funding round.
Ryan Nelson, Founder and CEO, Refilled: "Refilled is transforming the ordinary, everyday act of drinking water into climate action. 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 drink vending machines, which are an outrageous source of plastic waste, we will stop millions of plastic bottles going to landfills."