Refilled’s vending machines encourage users to bring their own bottles

A new climate tech start-up has introduced a unique vending machine technology that promotes the idea of BYO (bring-your-own) bottles to buy their drinks rather than marketing drinks in bottles that add more to landfill.

Refilled aims to eliminate the colossal single-use plastic bottle waste caused by the vending industry by replacing them with its new BYO bottle system. The company hopes to capitalise on the dominant trend of reusable bottles, a market now worth $14bn, by giving people more flavour variety and nutritional options than just plain water on tap.

It also tracks the number of bottles saved in real-time as its reusable bottles are equipped with QR codes that can be scanned at the Refiller and used to pay for drinks, with no card, phone or cash required.

Already, Refilled has secured orders from the University of Technology Sydney and The University of Sydney Union (USU) who are looking to deploy their machines within their premises and providing students with more sustainable flavoured drink alternatives at a price more affordable than a standard bottle of water.

Research indicates that more than 891 billion single-use plastic bottles are produced worldwide every year but only less than 20 per cent are recycled. Vending machines have been singled out as a major source of plastic pollution.

Refilled stated that it is on track to build and install 100 of its vending machines (called ‘Refillers’) by 2024, which would eliminate upwards of one million single-use plastic bottles from becoming waste every year. A single Refilled vending machine can stock 10x more beverages than a typical vending machine, while also dramatically reducing waste and delivery emissions caused by frequent deliveries and restocking of traditional beverages.

To date, Refilled has raised $600k through angel investors and Melt Ventures an impact VC Fund. Refilled is seeking an additional $3m in its next funding round.

“Refilled is transforming the ordinary, everyday act of drinking water into climate action,” Refilled founder and CEO, Ryan Nelson, said. “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,” Nelson added. “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.”

University of Sydney Union President, Naz Sharifi, said that the union remains committed to a sustainable future for its members, which permeates through everything that they provide.

“From our events, retail and products to our student programs and facilities, ss part of our ongoing efforts to expand our sustainable practices and to reduce the usage of single-use plastic bottles, we are thrilled to be partnering with Refilled, who share our social, environmental, and ecological aspirations,” Sharifi said. “This will allow our members access to filling stations in key locations around campus.”

Anna Chavez GM Commercial Operations , ActivateUTS / University of Technology Sydney, is also proud to partner with UTS Alumni and founder Ryan Nelson, homing Refilled’ s prototype in ActivateUTS Student engagement ‘Hideout’ space, empowering students to eliminate thousands of single-use plastic bottles in its first year alone.

“Students loved the newly launched machine, at our recent Orientation Day, offering an easy-to-use interface, paired with a cost effective and convenient product,” Chavez said. “We believe the right commercial decisions can meet the needs of the business, consumer and drive a positive change towards a more sustainable world, and Refilled is a great example of this.”