The Australian government recently established new packaging regulations after an official study revealed that only 18% of plastic packaging is recycled, falling far short of the target of 70% by 2025. Reloaded, a Sydney-based startup, wants to help with its smart drinks dispensers, intended for use with reusable bottles. Its mission is to save a million plastic bottles from landfill, and among its first clients is Google.
Refilled announced today that it has raised a A$1.3 million (approximately US$845,000) seed round led by impact investor Melt Ventures, with participation from Envato co-founders Cyan Ta’ eed and Collis Ta’eed. It will use part of the funding to manufacture 100 of its drinks stations, called Refiller, at its Penrith NSW factory.
Used by organizations such as Google’s Sydney office, University of Technology Sydney, University of Sydney, Aeona co-working space and Sydney Green House Tech Hub, the charges are installed in shared spaces such as gyms, universities and offices as an alternative to bottled and canned drinks. Machinery. They serve still and sparkling drinks in hundreds of flavors, with the option to add caffeine, vitamins and nootropics. Refilled claims that across all locations where its dispensers are installed, it has managed to save 25,000 bottles since its launch in August.
Before starting Refilled, founder Ryan Nelson was a co-founder of Foodbomb, an Australian startup that aggregates wholesale food products for restaurants. This gave him insight into the different challenges of the food industry. The idea for Refilled came to him when he was at a gym and couldn’t find a way to refill his water bottle.
“Instead, I was presented with rows and rows of drinks packaged in single-use plastic,” he told TechCrunch. “I bought one, drank it straight away, and there was no recycling bin either. That’s when I realized that this plastic bottle was only used for two minutes and could stay on the planet for 1,000 years. I started working on the reloader that afternoon.
Refills are different from standard beverage dispensers you might find at restaurants because they’re designed for use in shared spaces, not just hospitality settings, Nelson says. It can accept credit card payments and track sales and CO2 levels in real time, so Refilled knows when a machine needs to be restocked. Each machine can store 100 times more drinks than a traditional vending machine, and a full refill fits in a shoebox, making delivery faster and cheaper.
Five additional refills will be installed this year, in addition to the 100 that will be manufactured. Recharged charges customers a small setup fee and then a monthly subscription of a few hundred dollars for each machine. The monthly fee covers restocking and maintenance. Plain water is dispensed for free, while flavored, caffeinated, and sparkling water cost about a dollar each. Customers can also choose to let people use the machine for free, for example as an office perk. Users can scan a QR code to track their environmental impact and see how many plastic bottles they’ve saved by using Refiller, and they can purchase a Recharged+ subscription that lets them get each drink for less.
Reloaded has two types of competitors. The first category includes major beverage companies like Coca Cola, PepsiCo and Nestlé. “We want to take market share away from any drink served in a plastic bottle or metal can, by being a greener alternative,” says Nelson.
The second category is closer to refills and includes Bevi, Zip and Billi Faucets, all of which make different types of beverage or water dispensers.
Nelson says the flavors and user experiences are very different across these brands, and Recharged differentiates itself by offering all-natural flavors made in Australia. It’s also designed for use in many types of shared spaces, not just offices.
In a statement regarding the investment, Collis Ta’eed said: “Sustainability alone is not enough to motivate consumers to change their behavior. The benefit of Refilled is that it uses a lower-cost model to provide consumers with a better, more affordable drinking experience. It’s a win-win.