AS the spotlight firmly shifts to single-use plastic, one Gold Coast business is seeking to offer consumers an alternative to bottled water.
Ormeau-based Water3, founded by entrepreneurs Leicester Chatfield and Damien Stone, will roll out another 100 of its refillable water bottle stations in the next month.
The company is aiming to have more than 600 machines installed by the end of the year – equating to growth of 350 per cent in the next six months.
The kiosks, located at G:link stations, surf lifesaving clubs and shopping centres between Noosa and Ballina, enable people to pick up and refill a branded, stainless-steel flask or refill a bottle of their own.
On the lid of every flask is a chip that stores credit and links to an app that enables users to top up their credit or find the location of nearby kiosks.
Each refill of spring or sparkling water starts from $1.
Mr Stone said he first conceived the idea for Water3 six and a half years ago.
“I spent the first three years trying to convince people there was a problem that needed solving,” he said.
“Businesses for the past 30 years have been making use of cheap, single-use plastic to package and distribute their goods. They have made money, but the problem is it has come at a cost – and the cost is the environment.”
Mr Stone, whose background is in branding and marketing for major brands including Coke and Cadbury, launched Water3 with business partner Mr Chatfield, a former executive with alcoholic beverage company Lion Nathan.
He said beverage companies had tried to justify packaging products with single-use plastics by saying the products were recycled, but that was not true.
“About 91 per cent of plastics do not get recycled in Australia,” he said.
“The Federal Government is pumping money into trying to recycle this stuff, but the first pillar of any waste management strategy is avoidance.”
Mr Stone said, in the early days, he encountered stiff resistance from people and companies that did not believe he had a viable business.
“The way I worked around the resistance was to call people out,” he said.
“If you think the current way is sustainable, then look at your children and apologise because you are screwing the planet up for them.
“There is no way out. Every piece of plastic that is being produced is still here.”
He said beverage companies were in trouble because of government clampdowns on single-use plastics.
The Queensland Government recently introduced a ban on retailers supplying single-use lightweight plastic shopping bags to customers.
Mr Stone said he was in discussions with major beverage companies about rolling out Water3 kiosks both here and internationally in Hong Kong, the US and the Philippines.
He said the company, which occupies 1400sq m in Ormeau, where the water is filtered and treated, was well placed for rapid expansion.
“We are set up here to roll out 2500 kiosks,” he said.
Mr Stone said consumers had responded positively to the kiosks and he was starting to see social attitudes to single-use plastic changing.
“The person drinking bottled water is feeling like there is social shame now coming on,” he said. “You might as well smoke a cigarette and blow the smoke into a baby’s face, because that is what you are doing to turtles.”