A new, Chicago, Illinois, US-based start-up called Kadeya (from cadeia, which means supply chain in Portuguese) has created a vending machine that distributes glass bottles which can then be returned to the machine, or another Kadeya machine, where they will then be cleaned, sterilized to 170˚ Fahrenheit, and re-used.
“We think of ourselves as combining a bottling plant with a dishwasher with a soda fountain,” Manuela Zoninsein, founder and CEO of Kadeya. “And that’s the first time that’s ever been done.”
In addition, the machines also feature a contactless payment system that uses a QR code attached to the user’s account. All a customer has to do is to scan the QR code on their phone and they receive a chilled, glass bottle of water.
“We think of ourselves as combining a bottling plant with a dishwasher with a soda fountain.”
This is also a way to keep track if people are returning the bottles. “It’s really just like CitiBike — we understand when a bottle is undocked from the system, and who got it, but we don’t follow them around,” says Zoninsein. “We don’t know where they [take] that bottle while they have it. But then we know who it was that returned it, and at what time and what location.”
Ideas from life experience
The idea of reusable glass bottles in vending machines came to Zoninsein when she was living in China for work. She witnessed the country shift from reusable bottles to single-use bottles and realised that single-use was simply unsustainable in every sense of the word. She knew that something had to be done.
Currently, the first Kadeya vending machines are on-site at a huge Indianapolis construction site for a pilot program. Industrial sites and factories are the perfect place to test the new system.
That’s because OSHA regulations require that water is provided to workers on these sites, but due to the nature of the work done there, it is often dangerous or impractical for employees to bring water into work areas. Now, employees can easily buy a bottle of water, drink it, and then just return to the machine.