Kadeya, a Chicago-based startup, designed a genius vending machine that gives customers a drink, then takes the bottle back for reuse.
When a customer is finished with their beverage, any of the brand’s vending machines will take the bottle back, sanitize it, and refill the clean vessel for the next person ready to quench their thirst.
“We think of ourselves as combining a bottling plant with a dishwasher with a soda fountain,” Manuela Zoninsein, founder and CEO of Kadeya, told Fast Company.
Zoninsein shared her observations of years working in China and the move to single-use packaging, telling the outlet, “I saw that country, from 2007 to 2015, go from reuse to single-use. And anything that happens in China happens at a massive scale.”
She recalled watching single-use growth unfold so quickly and how there didn’t seem to be a great sustainable solution to the problem.
Zoninsein later attempted to shift her next employer, an office in New York City, from cases of bottled water to a reusable bottle refill station.
However, many of her colleagues did not adjust to the new option, so she began innovating and eventually came up with the idea for Kadeya, derived from the Portuguese word “cadeia,” meaning “supply chain,” a nod to Zoninsein’s native language.
Last fall, the first pilot machine made it to an expanding construction site in Indianapolis. Like many other construction companies, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations require them to supply water to workers. Before Kadeya’s vending machine, complicated arrangements made supplying enough bottled water to hundreds of tradespeople difficult.
Now, the site provides accessible water and reduces waste. And the bottles have been consistently returned to the vending machine since its installation. There are no penalties for bottles that don’t make it back currently, but Kadeya can observe returned bottle habits and turnaround times for future planning purposes.
With the positive feedback and trajectory, Kadeya plans to provide multiple machines at prominent locations facing similar concerns. The company is working strategically to troubleshoot its challenges, including needing multiple vending machines near each other to get bottles back.
Kadeya started working with an unnamed billion-dollar beverage company to test different flavors and containers, which means we may see these vending machines roll out in other areas soon.
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