eBev 2017

SodaStream zeroes in on plastic bottle waste: ‘We, as an industry, have a big problem’

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

At a 31% recycling rate in the US, roughly 100 million plastic bottles end up in the landfill, SodaStream estimates. ©GettyImages/empire331
At a 31% recycling rate in the US, roughly 100 million plastic bottles end up in the landfill, SodaStream estimates. ©GettyImages/empire331

Related tags Carbonation

SodaStream, maker of at-home sparkling water machines, has become an advocate for cutting down plastic bottle waste within the beverage industry, a message the brand’s VP of global marketing Itai Bichler believes resonates with many consumers.

“We, as an industry, have a big problem,”​ Bichler said at eBev 2017 in Las Vegas last week. “We are producing plastic bottles that are basically killing our planet.”

The recycling rate of plastic beverage bottles in the US is approximately 31%, meaning more than 100 million plastic bottles end up in the landfill every day, according to SodaStream.

Owners of a SodaStream machine can save an average of 550 plastic bottles each year thanks to the machine's reusable and refillable two-liter bottles, the company claims.

Sustainability message

SodaStream has the additional challenge of convincing consumers to make a significant purchase of a carbonated beverage maker up front before seeing any type of return on that investment (both monetary and environmental).

“We need to get our consumers to invest at least $100 in the product before they actually get the chance to try it, so this is a great barrier,”​ Bichler said. “And not everybody is willing at this point in time to make the leap.”

However, the carbonated beverage machine maker has noticed that when consumers are aware of both the health and environmental positive impact owning a at-home carbonated beverage maker can have, its incremental sales see an uptick.

SodaStream: How it works

SodaStream's at home system lets consumers turn tap water into sparkling flavored water.

Each sparkling water maker comes with a plastic BPA-free reusable carbonating bottle or glass reusable carbonating bottle; and CO2 cylinder. 

The company says it is 'leading a revolution against bottled and canned beverages' with machines sold in 45 countries. 

“At the end of the day, if you don’t have a meaningful subject to talk about nobody will care about it,”​ Bichler said.

SodaStream has increased its sustainability marketing efforts with recent advertisements such as its spoof on a recent Game of Thrones scene. In the ad, a male shopper purchases bottled water at a retailer and is then followed through the streets by lookalike characters from the HBO TV who shout “shame”​ in his direction for contributing to bottled water waste.

SodaStream’s increased investment in sustainability-related marketing “has been working”, ​according to Bichler, “because people nowadays understand that this is an issue.”

In the past year, SodaStream sparkling water consumption has totaled roughly two billion liters (528.3 million gallons), according the company.

North America focus

The company’s US business has seen strong growth reporting 32% growth in machine sales for Q317 compared to the same period last year.

However, revenue in the US was down 11% for the quarter and the Bichler believes that the market is still underpenetrated.

“They aren’t drinking as much sparkling water as they should in North America,” ​he said.

To help drive further growth in the market SodaStream has launched an ad campaign with fitness celebrity Jillian Michaels who highlights the health benefits as well as environments of using the carbonated water system. 

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