Reefill

A network of cold, filtered water stations in local businesses around town providing a convenient, eco-friendly bottled water alternative.

Photo of jason@reefill.com
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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

Reefill, Inc.

Year founded

2015

Initiative stage

  • Growth (the pilot has already launched and is starting to expand)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $50k - $100k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 1,000 - 5,000

Organization type

  • Social enterprise

Secondary Focus Area

  • Nutrition

Headquarters location: Country

  • United States of America

Headquarters location: City

New York City

Location(s) of impact

USA: New York City

Website

http://www.reefill.com

Facebook URL

https://www.facebook.com/reefillh2o/

Twitter URL

https://twitter.com/ReefillH2O

Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

Consumers worldwide are addicted to bottled water. 83% of the US population buys it, most every single day, making bottled water a $21 billion industry. Yet bottled water results in 38 billion disposable plastic bottles being dumped into US landfills and oceans each year, creates millions of tons of greenhouse gases, and wastes oil, water, and energy. All this for a product that is essentially tap water. In fact, 50% of bottled water, including Coke’s Dasani and Pepsi’s Aquafina, is sourced from municipal supplies.

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

Reefill provides a low-cost, eco-friendly alternative to bottled water through a dense network of stations in urban areas that provide tap water for free and unlimited chilled, filtered water for a small monthly fee. Using the Reefill app, members find the nearest station – located in businesses, such as coffee shops, bakeries, and fast-casual eateries – activate it using their phone’s Bluetooth, and fill their bottle in seconds. Monthly memberships cost $1.99, less than the price of one bottled water, and provide unlimited refills at any Reefill station. Members can also take advantage of the Reefill app’s additional features, such as tracking water consumed and the amount of money and plastic bottles they have saved as well as receiving discounts from participating businesses. With each fill, one day of safe water is donated to someone in need in the developing world through our partnership with http://Water.org.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

Late last year, Reefill launched an 8-station pilot network around New York University, which provided grant funding. Although the pilot was not intended to acquire customers, who expect a bigger network, Reefill nonetheless has over 1,100 paying members, approximately 700 of whom were acquired in the past 2 months. To date, Reefill has saved over 28,000 plastic bottles from the landfill.

These savings will increase next year as Reefill expands from its pilot network to a 100-station network spanning Manhattan. After New York, Reefill will expand to the top 70 walkable cities in the United States, a list topped by cities like Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco, with cities like Austin at the bottom. Reefill is a natural partner for these cities since it helps them reduce waste removal costs and highlight the importance of municipal water infrastructure. As Reefill’s offerings expand to carbonated and flavored beverages, even more single-use plastic bottles will be rendered obsolete.

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

Reefill’s main source of revenue is membership plans, which cost $1.99 per month (the price of just one single-use bottled water) or $19.99 per year. Reefill also offers bulk membership plans to universities (NYU purchased memberships for its freshmen this year) and corporations, which can provide Reefill memberships to employees as a wellness benefit and CSR initiative.

Reefill generates additional revenue through water bottle sales in host businesses and online. As Reefill grows, it will develop new revenue streams from carbonation and flavored options as well as sponsorships.

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

Reefill provides consumers with a product of equal quality and convenience to bottled water at a fraction of the cost, and the consumer feels good knowing they are helping preserve the environment. Reefill is also more convenient than water brought from home/work since the consumer on-the-go need not worry about running low – the network is dense enough that consumers are never more than 2 blocks from a Reefill station, meaning members can rely on smaller bottles, including collapsible ones.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

CEO Jason Pessel began developing the business model as an MBA student at NYU Stern, from which he graduated in 2015. He was horrified by NYC trash cans overflowing with bottled water waste and wanted to create an easier solution for filling his reusable bottle on a hot summer day. In late 2015, Reefill participated in the Think Beyond Plastic accelerator and took the first steps toward turning this business plan into a reality.

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Ashoka page or contact

Evaluation results

2 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 50%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 0%

3 - I think the idea is great, but it needs some work before it moves onto the next round. - 0%

2 - I liked it fine but preferred others. - 50%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. Needs significant revisions. - 0%

2. Innovation

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 0%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 50%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 50%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

3. Social and/or Environmental Impact

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 0%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 0%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 100%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

4. Financial sustainability

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 0%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 100%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 100%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

Nothing stands out! I thought it was great. - 0%

5. Potential to Scale / Replicability

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 0%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 50%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 50%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

6. Organizational Leadership

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 0%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 0%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 100%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

7. Potential for Creating Shared Value

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 0%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 50%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 50%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

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2 comments

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Photo of STEVEN MATIKU

This is very interesting; may know how is payment done? what are the stages for water purification? what is the water sources? do you need to connect the machine direct to tap water?

Photo of jason@reefill.com

Hi Steven -- thank you for your comment. Payment is made through the app. The stations are connected directly to the tap with chilling and filtration happening at the point of service. Reefill stations use carbon and sediment filters that meet the performance standards of NSF certification 42 (meaning they reduce specific aesthetic or non-health-related contaminants, including chlorine, taste, and odor) and NSF certification 53 (meaning they reduce specific health-related contaminants, including lead, Cryptosporidium/Cyst, and Giardia).