Australian Government New packaging regulations have recently been enacted An official review found that only 18% of plastic packaging was recycled, well below the 2025 target of 70%. refillA Sydney-based startup is looking to assist with its smart drinks dispenser, which is designed to be used with reusable bottles. Its mission is to save 1 million plastic bottles from landfills, and early customers include Google.
Refill announced today that it has raised A$1.3 million (approximately US$845,000) in a seed round led by impact investor Melt Ventures, with participation from Envato co-founders Cyan Ta’eed and Collis Ta’eed. It will use some of the funds to produce 100 beverage stations, called Refillers, at its factory in Penrith, New South Wales.
The refills are used by organizations such as Google Sydney, UTS, University of Sydney, Aeona co-working space and Green House Technology Center Sydney, and are installed in shared spaces such as gyms, universities and offices as an alternative to bottled and canned drinks Refill says it has managed to save 25,000 bottles of drinks at all locations where it has installed vending machines since its launch in August.
Before founding Refill, founder Ryan Nelson was one of the co-founders of Foodbomb, an Australian startup that specializes in wholesale food supplies for restaurants. This gave him an insight into the different challenges of the food industry. The idea for Refilled came about during his tenure. He went to the gym and couldn’t find a way to refill his water bottle.
“Instead, what I saw were rows and rows of drinks packaged in single-use plastic,” he told TechCrunch. “I bought one, drank it immediately, and there was no recycling bin. That’s when it dawned on me, This “plastic bottle” is only used for two minutes but may stay on earth for a thousand years. I started researching supplements that afternoon. “
Nelson said refillers are different from standard drink dispensers in restaurants because they are designed to be used in shared spaces, not just hotel venues. It accepts credit card payments and instantly tracks sales and CO2 levels, so Refill knows when the machines need to be restocked. Each machine can hold 100 times more drinks than traditional vending machines, and complete restocks can fit into shoe boxes, making delivery faster and cheaper.
In addition to the 100 units to be manufactured, five Refillers will be installed this year. Refilled charges customers a small setup fee and then a monthly subscription fee of a few hundred dollars per machine. Monthly fee includes restocking and maintenance. Still water is free, while flavored, caffeinated and sparkling water are about a dollar each. Customers can also choose to let people use the machine for free, for example as an office benefit. Users can scan a QR code to track their environmental impact to see how many plastic bottles they’ve saved by using Refiller, and they can purchase a Refilled+ subscription so they can get each drink for less.
Refill has two categories of competitors. The first category consists of large beverage companies such as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé. “We hope to capture market share from beverages packaged in plastic bottles or metal cans by providing a more environmentally friendly alternative,” Nielsen said.
The second category is closer to Refill and includes Bevi, Zip and Billi Taps, which all make different types of beverages or water dispensers.
Nelson said the flavors and user experiences of the brands were very different, with Refilled specializing in all-natural, Australian-made flavours. It’s also designed to be used in many different types of shared spaces, not just offices.
Collis Ta’eed said in a statement about the investment: “Sustainability alone is not enough to get consumers to change their behaviour. What’s great about Refill is that it adopts a waste reduction model that provides consumers with A better, more affordable beverage experience. A win-win.”