NEWS: Smart ReFill Bottles for Smarter People


 There have been several versions of intelligent refillable bottles and dispensers. Several pilots have used university students as the test subjects. The idea now seems to be going more mainstream as Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) has launched a trial with the UK’s University of Reading targeted at reducing the amount of packaging used for its products and contributing to a more sustainable campus environment.

The project combines new smart Coca-Cola fountain dispensers –known as Coca-Cola Freestyle machines along with with refillable containers. These are micro-chipped to interact with technology in the dispenser, allowing students and staff to buy all their soft drinks in reusable bottles.

Bottles contain RFID chips to directly interact with Validfill dispensing technology. As well as ensuring that payment has been made, the technology will also allow CCEP to track how many times the refillable bottle is used and which drinks are the most popular.

The bespoke and customisable refillable bottles have been manufactured by Whirley-Drinks Works and can be purchased at the University, giving users access to refills during the term. Students can access to over 100 drinks from a range of well-known brands such as Coca-Cola Classic, Diet Coke and Fanta, including low and zero calorie variants, caffeine free and still drinks.

CCEP and the University will monitor the impact the scheme has on recycling and littering of soft drinks packaging at sites where the machines are installed. They will also communicate with students and staff about their experiences.

Students will also be able to try drinks and flavour variants from Coca Cola that are not available in UK stores. Options for single pour and limited refills are also available.

Nick Brown, head of sustainability at Coca-Cola European Partners GB, explained,  “As well as supporting a more sustainable packaging system on campus, the trial will allow us to explore consumer behaviours and attitudes towards refillable bottles.”