A network of cold, filtered water stations in local businesses around town providing a convenient, eco-friendly bottled water alternative.
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.
Growth (the pilot has already launched and is starting to expand)
Annual budget in 2017 (USD)
Number of beneficiaries impacted so far
Headquarters location: Country
Headquarters location: City
New York City
Location(s) of impact
USA: New York City
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 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?