Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) has begun pairing its Freestyle fountain dispensers with refillable bottles in the UK, helping people reduce their packaging footprint.
The refillable containers are micro-chipped to interact with the dispenser technology, allowing students and staff to buy all their soft drinks in a single reusable bottle.
The customisable bottles, manufactured by Whirley-Drinks Works, can be purchased at the University of Reading, where CCEP has installed the Freestyle machines, giving users access to refills throughout the ten-week term.
Students will have access to over 100 drinks from a range of brands such as Coca-Cola classic, Diet Coke and Fanta, including low and zero calorie variants, as well as still drinks. They will also be able to try drinks and flavour variants within the business’s global portfolio that are not available in UK stores. Options for single pour and limited refills are available.
The bottles contain RFID (radio frequency identification) to directly interact with Validfill dispensing technology. As well as ensuring that payment has been made, this technology will also allow CCEP to track how many times the refillable bottle is used and which drinks are most popular.
CCEP and the University of Reading will be monitoring the impact the scheme has on recycling and littering of soft drinks packaging at the sites where the machines are installed, and will be talking to students and staff about their experiences of using refillable bottles.
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
The programme forms part of the university’s commitment to reduce its environmental impact, under which it has cut carbon emissions by more than one third. The university has said it will monitor patterns of drinks consumed during the trial.
CCEP GB head of sustainability Nick Brown said: “We’re hugely excited to have joined forces with the University of Reading on this project. 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, with the goal to help students and staff across the university to reduce their personal packaging footprint.
“As an industry leader in drinks manufacturing and supply, we value our work with organisations that share our ambition towards a more sustainable future, and we look forward to seeing how the programme develops over the coming months.”
University of Reading catering and bars manager Matt Tebbit added: “Around 650,000 plastic bottled drinks are used on our campuses each year, so this partnership will help the University to reduce this considerably. The new drinks machines will cut traffic around campus and carbon emissions as refill cartridges can be delivered by courier rather than lorries.
“The scheme will provide a wider range of low and no calorie drinks options to students and staff, as well as offering free drinking water to everyone – something students had requested.”
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