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Drop Water Is A Vending Machine With Onsite Bottling In Compostable Packaging

by Casha Doemland on 02/19/2019 | 3 Minute Read

You're on your way to the airport when you realize you've left your S’well bottle at home. Bummed, because you’re in for a 10-hour flight, you consider buying a giant single-use plastic water bottle for the flight or chugging some water at a cafe in the terminal instead of hoping that the flight attendants keep you hydrated.

Those aren’t great options, and you certainly don’t want to increase your plastic footprint.

Strolling through your terminal, you stumble upon Drop Water. Intrigued, you step over to inspect this high-end looking vending machine and discover that all of your worries are gone and that this two-in-one water machine can not only provide you with a sustainable water receptacle but also offers refills.

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Founded by Industrial Technology & Packaging graduate Scott Edwards, Drop Water is a direct result of the waste found within the bottled water industry.  The companies origins date back to his time at Cal Poly where his senior project focused on creating a more eco-friendly and efficient option for water on the go.

Drop Water dedicates themselves to finding a sustainable alternative to single-use plastic water bottles. "We want to make this method and this packaging more prevalent than traditional bottled water," says Edwards.

Edwards created Drop Stations which act like mini bottling plants. Each station is capable of not only refilling a reusable bottle with locally-sourced filtered water but also the means to produce a 100% compostable or recyclable bottle within 10 seconds. Currently, it’s free to refill your bottle with regular water, but if you'd like to purchase a bottle or add flavorings, the price point starts at $2.50 and can go up to $5 based on the location of the machine and the type of beverage you're creating.

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The substrate of the bottle varies based on whether the location of the Drop Station has an industrial composting facility, or if they only have a recycling plant. Some of the current bottles made were of two parts, an uncoated cellulose fiber shell and a cap or bag made from EcoMax, though  Edwards is currently in the midst of finding new substrates to create an entire bottle, cap and all, that is as compostable as a banana peel.

"The shape of the bottle, on the other hand, is a result of many design iterations that we completed in-house," says Edwards. "Our bottles are shaped like a cone so they can stack (like cones) to increase the capacity of our machines and take up less space during transportation. We even designed the machine and the bottle simultaneously."

The package design mostly happens in-house, and the bottles pay tribute to Mother Earth and her creations by featuring coral reefs, the ocean and marine life. Drop Water is also open to allowing the client to take creative control and supply their own team of designers or designs to produce the bottles that are the right fit for them.  

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Recently, Drop Water launched its first stations in both terminals at San Jose Airport in California with three starter flavored waters, guava, cucumber and melon starting at $3.25 and regular old water for free. Moving forward, they hope to expand their offerings with iced tea, seasonal flavors and vitamin blends as well as expand regionally in high traffic locations like large corporate campuses, resorts and hospitals.

“As packaging engineers, we hold enormous responsibility for our global ecology,” says Edwards. “We should strive to be good ancestors for future generations. When we look at industries that produce hundreds of billions of single-use plastic containers, we should consider the environmental cost always.”

Our future is in our hands,” he adds. “Let's challenge what exists and see if there are better ways to get products into a customer’s hands.”

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