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Water vending machine uses RFID to track bottles

By Charlotte Eyre , 24-Jul-2007

Healthy, environmentally friendly and delivered in a minimum time period - a new water vending machine uses radio frequency identification (RFID) to hit all the market trends.

The new Aquaduct system, designed by S2C Global to deliver recyclable, five-gallon plastic bottles of water directly to the customer, targets a growing number of consumers who are time poor, but still have concerns over unhealthy products that damage the environment. According to the manufacturer, consumers purchase bottled water through outdoor vending machines with a credit, debit or pre-paid aqua card. The bottles are fitted with radio frequency identification (RFID) tags for automated returns and bottle deposit refunds, providing the consumer with an accurate and easy way of recycling the product, the company said. "Our AquaDuct machine will not only provide North American consumers with the convenience they are used to, but most importantly it will aide in recycling the use of bottles by approximately 30 per cent, consequently saving space in landfills" said Rob Bartlett, chief executive officer of S2C Global Systems. "The S2C AquaDuct also puts the profit back into the distribution of five-gallon bottled water by reducing distribution costs by as much as 75 per cent," he added. Fears over environmental damage because of plastic water bottles have grown over recent months, as sales of non-carbonated and healthy drinks have rocketed. According to environmental researchers Worldwatch, global consumption of bottled water has doubled between 1997 and 2005, reaching $10bn (€7.4bn) in the US alone, meaning that the country sends two million tons of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottled water packaging to landfill each year. In 2005, the recycling rate for PET was only 23.1 per cent in the US, far below the 39.7 per cent rate achieved a decade earlier, according to Worldwatch. Across Europe, the PET recycling rate averages between 20 and 40 per cent. S2C Global Systems Inc. (S2C), designs and manufactures systems for the automated handling of bulk pre-packaged products. According to the company website, it will this year aim to become a "major player" in the US $9bn (€6.5bn) water industry.

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