New sustainable beverage tech could eliminate plastic bottles

By Beth Newhart

- Last updated on GMT

Boomerang eliminates plastic waste and creates a sustainable solution for single-use beverages.
Boomerang eliminates plastic waste and creates a sustainable solution for single-use beverages.

Related tags Bottled water Sustainability Package

North Carolina-based Clear Water Manufacturing has launched a machine that can filter, fill and cap more than 300 bottles of water per one-hour cycle on-site at any location, including campuses, hotels, stadiums or in retail spaces.

The company said its Boomerang Water product was created as a response to the plastic bottle crisis currently threatening the environment. More than 30 billion bottles of water were consumed last year in the US alone; many of which end up in landfills or the ocean.

The Boomerang Water machine is about the size of a refrigerator and hooks up to a location’s main water supply. It then fills recyclable aluminum or glass bottles and prepares them for on-site purchase. Setting up reverse-vending or return areas then encourage consumers to return the bottles that can be washed, re-filled and sold again.

“Our system has the ability to sanitize, fill and cap bottles right at point-of-use which reduces our carbon footprint by 95% because we’re not paying the transportation cost and we’re not using plastic bottles,” ​co-founder and CEO Jason Dibble told BeverageDaily.

Eliminating single-use plastic

Dibble has been a part of the water quality industry for seven years and worked on Boomerang Water in research and development for four years. He and his partners saw a desperate need for new filling technology that eliminates plastic and creates a sustainable solution for single-use beverages.

The machines are still in the pre-launch phase, but Dibble is processing orders now and expects to have ten up-and-running with clients by the end of 2018. During the development process he spoke with potential vendors to gauge interest.

Through this outreach the company settled on using aluminum bottles at stadiums rather than glass to prevent breakage. Both materials will be used elsewhere, however, and have the potential for bottle branding.

Possible branding options for Boomerang bottles.

In order to ensure customers return the bottles on-site, Boomerang is considering a rebate program that grants cash back toward the next purchase for every bottle returned.

“In order to incentivize an individual to [recycle] sometimes there has to be a monetary side. Some people do it just because they’re green and clean and I appreciate it, but you’ve got to have that other aspect in some cases,”​ Dibble said.

Potential beverage expansion

Water is the obvious target with Boomerang’s launch, but the filling technology can be applied to beverages across the industry. According to Dibble, the only type of beverage that can’t work with the machine, because of the capping mechanism, is those that are carbonated.

This still leaves room for Boomerang to expand to flavored water, juice and dairy drinks, among others. However, those plans are on the back burner until the concept gains steam with bottled water.

“We’re the only ones in the world currently with the patent and the technology to do this. We do know that once this market opens up there’s going to be others, we just hope that with first mover advantage we can go out there but do it the right way,” ​Dibble said.

“We’re not going to change a $190bn per year industry that’s growing at 10% year over year, I know that. But if we can be impactful enough to change minds by the way that we’re doing things, then we can make a difference. That’s what I think Boomerang has the ability to do.”

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