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Product Design Gives New Meaning to "Fill ‘Er Up"

Product Design Gives New Meaning to "Fill ‘Er Up"

Filling up at the petrol station takes on a whole new meaning with industrial design students Jack Anderson and Jeremy Gardiner’s washing and refilling service that enables people to fill up on water and coffee too.

Called Refresh, their system of washing and re-use relies upon four key components to help reduce waste, re-use cups and bottles and ensure they are recycled once the consumer no longer wants them.

Their design is part of the end-of-year Exposure exhibition being staged by final year students at Massey University’s College of Creative Arts, which opens at the Wellington campus on Friday.

Taking the profile of a typical representative of the millennial generation (or generation Y), the two designers sought to meet their needs by offering a water bottle and coffee re-filling service that was quick, convenient and technologically savvy.

Using NFC swipe card-type technology, wash terminals inside the petrol station sterilise the bottles and cups - an innovation they believe by having readily available to consumers will be a huge step towards encouraging their re-use. The pair made the prototype cups and bottles and would set up an ongoing supply service should their design be picked up commercially.

In the case of the water bottles, which are bought in-store, the conveniently located water stations then refill the bottles with filtrated tap water. The coffee cups have a sliding lid that gives consumers the option to enjoy the coffee through a takeaway style nozzle or slide the lid back. The cups, made of clear non-breakable polypropylene, are also able to be rinsed and re-used.

In a further technological innovation their design includes an app that allows consumers to pre-order their coffee and once washed and dried be ready for refilling.

“It’s really about creating relationship with the consumer, making them aware of the impact they can have on the environment. It keeps a tally of the number of vessels they’ve prevented from becoming landfill and the benefit on their wallet through simple re-use,” Mr Gardiner says.

The two designers, who are originally from New Plymouth and the Wairarapa respectively, also provide the option of disposing of unwanted cups and bottles with handily placed bins from where they can be taken and put through the recycling process.

Both men say the constant in and outflow of customers that service stations experience made them an ideal place to site test their design.

“With 3.1 million New Zealanders holding a driver’s license and buying petrol at least once a week, we chose to design Refresh to operate in New Zealand petrol stations,” Mr Gardiner says.

His own research involving a survey of 560 respondents showed that while 43 per cent owned a reusable water bottle they still bought single-use bottles “illustrating that the current reusable water bottle doesn’t offer enough convenience for the modern consumer.”

The pair were able to cite further statistics that showed 77 per cent of New Zealanders were comfortable with drinking tap water, while figures from Nielsen Research showed that in 2012 New Zealanders spent $60.4 million on bottled water at supermarkets and petrol stations.

Combined with the western world’s ongoing caffeine fix and figures which state 54 per cent of New Zealand coffee drinkers care about ethical and environmental implications of drinking coffee. The designers believe their concept could catch on.

One petrol company has already expressed interest in the sustainability aspects of their concept and the designers were keen to market it further.

“It’s all about reducing the damage created by single-use, disposable vessels in the coffee and water bottle industries.”


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