The negative environmental impacts of our rampant plastic water bottle use have been well-documented, and despite a growing number of efforts to discourage their use or develop alternatives such as boxed water and edible bottles, Americans alone use about around 50 billion each year, of which less than a quarter get recycled. According to the Pacific Institute, producing all of these bottles uses more than 17 million barrels of oil annually, or enough to fuel 1.3 million cars for a year.
And bottled water isn’t any better for our bodies, or wallets for that matter. In the U.S., public water is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which requires multiple daily tests for bacteria and makes results available to the public. However, the Food and Drug Administration, which regulates bottled water, only requires weekly testing and does not share its findings with the EPA or the public.
While the average water pitcher filters 240 gallons of water a year for about 19 cents a day, to get the same amount of water from bottled water would require 1,818 16.9-ounce water bottles a year — at an average cost of a dollar a bottle, that’s $4.98 a day.
The cost and pollution from the proliferation of plastic bottles throughout the world has led to a flurry of creative efforts from the textile industry to deal with them when they reach end of life, everything from Levi Strauss creating denim out of them and The North Face turning them into fleece, to companies such as REPREVE turning them into everything from football jerseys to graduation gowns.
Can we achieve plastic neutrality?
Learn more from WWF, National Geographic, Valutus and more on efforts to rethink the plastics value chain and strive for plastic neutrality — at SB'20 Long Beach.
And now there’s another player in the anti-plastic water bottle field: FloWater.
Refill stations bridge the gap between plastic and tap
FloWater has created a proprietary 7x purification process that delivers water from a user-friendly, freestanding water refill station, which allows users to quickly fill any type or size refillable container. The company was founded as a way to “bridge the gap” between our dependence on plastic and also encourage people to drink tap water. It is intended to be provide a “superior tasting” and hydrating water compared to single-use plastic bottles.
Co-founder and CEO Rich Razgaitis said the company also wanted to fill a gap in the market for health-focused consumers — many of whom are looking for purified, great-tasting water that won’t create additional plastic waste in the environment, or cause them to have to worry about toxicity from plastic bottles.
“For decades, innovation in water refilling stations was nonexistent,” Razgaitis told Sustainable Brands. “Until FloWater entered the market, anyone who wanted to refill their bottle had to make do with an old-school water fountain or an ordinary water cooler. Innovation in the category was limited to a few refill stations that were extremely expensive to operate, with highly unreliable equipment.”
A 7-Step Purification Process
Razgaitis says FloWater is different from other water refill stations in several ways:
- Its 7 steps of purification are contained with the refill station, delivering chilled, purified water that the company claims tastes better than other water.
- The Refill Station has an option for hot water, includes built-in natural sanitization, and has a fill area design to accommodate any size refillable container.
- The equipment itself requires only a simple placement (no drilling or mounting like some of the alternatives) and FloWater is dispensed faster than any other refill station (we can fill up a 25-oz bottle in less than 10 seconds).
FloWater refill stations were developed after more than a year of extensive innovation and technology prototyping, testing and refining, Razgaitis said.
“We have a patented industrial design that was tested with thousands of consumers, conducted comprehensive pre-market product testing before we launched our full-scale production in 2014. Some of the best companies and events in the world hydrate their employees, guests, customers, and athletes with FloWater.”
FloWater’s internal technology includes a microcomputer that sends regular data on each unit’s water usage, bottles saved from the environment and the current status of each filter. The interactive technology also allows us to preset bottle fill amounts and customize fill amounts to any location, which lets users push a single button to fill any size bottle. Lighting technology is energy efficient and goes into ambient mode when the Refill Station is not in use.
The Future of FloWater
Since launching production units in 2014, FloWater claims to have saved millions of bottles from the environment; it now is on its third-generation Refill Station.
But how is all of this better than tap water?
“FloWater’s Refill Stations remove contaminants that may be found in tap water,” Razgaitis said. “Depending on your source water, contaminants can be anything from dirt, rust, lead, suspended solids, chlorine, fluoride, or bacteria, to pharmaceuticals, heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides or other dissolved solids. After we remove the bad stuff, we enhance the water with the highest quality blend of minerals, electrolytes, oxygenation and increased alkalinity and finished with a coconut carbon filter — the end result is the best-tasting water in the world. It’s tap water transformed.”
FloWater is currently being employed in everything from hotels and schools to corporations and gyms.
“We see a future where people can take a refillable container, of any kind and size, and someday have ubiquitous access to the best-tasting water in the world via our FloWater Refill Stations,” Razgaitis said.