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Slam #1 Pop Bottle

Postby BlenderDefender » January 12th, 2005, 8:52 pm

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I want to tackle the plastic soda pop bottle. it seems like such a waste that every-time someone buys a soda they throw away the perfectly good bottle after only one use. Besides the flimsy label that gets ratty it seems that a pop bottle could be used many more than one time.

My idea is to develop a vending machine/bottle system that sells the Drink separately from the bottle. The bottles through their design will have a non-deposable aesthetic, however, they will use the exact same amount of resources to manufacture. I was thinking that the bottles could have the labels printed on the bottle instead of the label that gets messed up after one use as well as other refinements that would cause it to look more like a non-disposable product.

The vending machine will have an option to buy either a full bottle of the desired product or refill a bottle that has already been purchased. Through price structure it would be advantageous for the consumer to buy a bottle and use it multiple times rather than buy once and throw away. For example a bottle would cost two dollars and to have it refilled would cost only fifty cents. The machine will somehow clean the bottle before refilling it with product. Perhaps steam will be used much like how commercial coffee machines are cleaned.

Eventually these bottles will probably be thrown away, however, if the user refills their bottle only once then there is one less pop bottle in a land fill. chances are they would refill it more than once increasing the benefit each time. On top of that, soft-drink manufactures will not only be in the business of selling soda pop but also the bottle it comes in. There is an opportunity to increase profit if the price structure is worked out properly. Now they are selling the bottle where before it was included in the cost of the drink. I am running under the assumption that the soda is cheaper to produce than the packaging that it comes in.

edit: spelling
Last edited by BlenderDefender on January 12th, 2005, 11:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Postby iab » January 12th, 2005, 9:08 pm


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You may be too young to remember, but there was a time when soda was sold in thick, glass, returnable bottles. These faded away with the advent of the disposable plastic bottle. I like the idea of bringing back the reusable bottle. I may be wrong, but this seems to a project in material selection. For this to work, the bottle cannot be just cleaned, it has to be sterilized. The amount of liabitity is to too great to have a customer infected with some nasty strain of bacteria.

The next trick is to determine what materials can take the stress of sterilization. Glass is good, but it breaks easily. That may have been one of the original reasons why they went to plastic. The medical industry has a lot of info on sterilizing stuff. I would start there.

You may also want to check to see how much energy is used to sterilize your botttle verus the energy needed to make a new bottle.

Good idea. I look forward to see where you go with it.

Postby purplepeopledesign » January 12th, 2005, 9:26 pm


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Here in Vancouver, just about every public trash bin is "sorted" by any number of dumpster divers. Some of these people have been known to pack around entire garbage bags or shopping carts full of pop cans and plastic bottles for recycling. Their incentive is the pre-paid 10cent deposit on the containers.

Since just about every type of beverage container is included, the result has been a change in the way discard their finished drink containers. While many people will return their collected empties to various depots, including grocery store, convenience stores, supermarkets and even liquor stores, there are many more people who don't care to get their money back. But, instead of throwing the empty containers into the trash, they just leave them on top or nearby for the "collectors" to get.

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Postby 73lotus » January 12th, 2005, 10:49 pm


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Perhaps you should do away with the bottle totally. Just about everyone has their own thermos/coffee container and having a machine that simply fills their cup, bottle, etc. for a nominal fee would be better than trying to redesign the bottle. No worrying about sterilizing or longevity of the bottle if the consumer is providing their own container.

Postby JLdesign » January 13th, 2005, 1:12 am

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It's an interesting idea. Maybe you could set it up so that ANY pop machine has a setup like this, and instead of feeding it money, it could simply read a barcode on the back of the bottle and charge an account for your monthly "usage" of the pop machines. There has been some test marketing of Coke Machines which can communicate with a bluetooth phone and let you "order" a pop that way, and have it charged to an account.

One other thought, perhaps you could come up with a "sterilzation wand" that dips into the bottle sort of like a froth wand for an espresso machine. You would put the wand into the bottle, a steam and/or cleaning solution would be sprayed into it, then you dump out any dirty water, and finally, it gives it a "rinse" before you empty it a 2nd time and fill it up again.

Postby BlenderDefender » January 13th, 2005, 4:02 pm

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You may be too young to remember, but there was a time when soda was sold in thick, glass, returnable bottles.


Funny enough I just got back from a country where this is still a common practice.I was probably influenced by this without thinking about it.

One other thought, perhaps you could come up with a "sterilzation wand" that dips into the bottle sort of like a froth wand for an espresso machine.


I like this idea. it could shoot in steam suck it out then fill with soda in one motion. maybe it could even pierce some sort of port on the top of the bottle. That way the cap would not have to be removed.

Perhaps you should do away with the bottle totally. Just about everyone has their own thermos/coffee container and having a machine that simply fills their cup, bottle, etc.


I was considering this for a bit but decided the trade off between eco-friendlyness and convenience would be too much for the average soda drinker. The user could not just buy a soda on a whim they would have to remember to bring their own bottle. Plus, standardizing the bottle would make it easier to design a machine to interface with it.

Postby purplepeopledesign » January 13th, 2005, 4:44 pm


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Cleaning containers poses an additional question: Which uses more energy, cleaning containers individually or en masse?

For example, if everyone had their own cup, would it take more energy to clean them with a sterilization wand or by hand-washing? Could you make the eco-cleaning solutions cheaply and efficiently? If we turned in all our containers and had them cleaned and refilled at a big plant, is that more energy efficient?

Note: Don't just take into account the energy required to create steam, but everything from the cleaning solutions to energy losses from the power generation plant to the location of the end user. Even the creation of a long term durability container from mining raw materials to processing and fabrication should be counted vs. the energy costs for an equivalent number of short durability containers.

:)ensen.
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Postby JLdesign » January 13th, 2005, 9:22 pm

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BlenderDefender wrote:I like this idea. it could shoot in steam suck it out then fill with soda in one motion. maybe it could even pierce some sort of port on the top of the bottle. That way the cap would not have to be removed.


I'm not so sure about the idea of keeping the cap on during the process, but I do like the idea of having the sterilization wand clean and then suck whatever condensation or solution in the bottle out afterward.

Postby ykh » January 13th, 2005, 11:10 pm


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why are pop machines tall, large rectangular objects? i saw a movie ("Predator"?) w people walking in the jungle. someone cuts a vine and drinks from it....

Postby bluegrrrl » January 14th, 2005, 6:30 am


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i like 73lotus's idea of doing away with the bottle completely. consumers can bring their own bottles, or buy a bottle from the vending machine. the only problem would be dispensing the correct amount of cooldrink (i.e. making sure that a little bottle doesnt overflow) however, this could also be an advantage, as the machine could be programmed to dispense different quantities - how many times have u drank more cooldrink than you should have, just because the can or bottle contains specific quantities??

as for reusable bottles... rather having the vending machine clean them, could you not have a receptacle for used bottles?...so that bottles are just collected and cleaned elsewhere. you can have the cost of the bottle credited to your vending machine *account* and you get a ready-bottled bottle of cooldrink rather than having to fill your bottle yourself, at the machine :)

Postby abby » January 14th, 2005, 8:08 am

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bluegrrrl wrote: the only problem would be dispensing the correct amount of cooldrink (i.e. making sure that a little bottle doesnt overflow) however, this could also be an advantage, as the machine could be programmed to dispense different quantities - how many times have u drank more cooldrink than you should have, just because the can or bottle contains specific quantities??


But where would we be without our 20 oz. sodas? :)
I actually don't see this as a problem, since there are coffee machines now that do this (dispense different quantities).
I started to wonder about the whole carbonation/pouring thing but if fountain soda machines can do it, I'm sure there's no reason a vending machine can't. Maybe the bottle would have to be filled in a couple of shots, though, to avoid overflow of bubbles.

Postby porcupine » January 14th, 2005, 11:48 am


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Ok well it's an interesting discussion and i' not sure how if what i say will add something but here goes.

You have to think bigger than vending machines. they are not the only access points to soda. if it's a returnable bottle..people have to be able to get it at the supermarket, at the restaurant, off of street vendors, stadiums. so the your sterilzation process has to be portable enough and fast enough to service these communities. So what you're trying to do here is change the paradigm of use. so people don't mind exchanging bottles at any venue...or getting refills. We do it at mcDonalds maybe we can do it at the stadium. but then where do you put the costs of un-regulated dispensed drink. I mean you cna have free refills at McDonalds but if you do it at a 50000 person stadium then who pays for that? As a stadium rep how do you know how much should be bought? You might have to expand the question in order to focus properly.

Postby BlenderDefender » January 14th, 2005, 2:04 pm

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You have to think bigger than vending machines. they are not the only access points to soda. if it's a returnable bottle..people have to be able to get it at the supermarket, at the restaurant, off of street vendors, stadiums.


-I was defiantly thinking of this. there could be the 7-11 version that would replace their coolers filled with prepackaged drinks. I don't know if I will have time in this competition to design every version but I can defiantly hint towards it.

-I really don't know if I want to let the user provide their own container. this would kill my argument that it would increase profit for manufacturers. plus it would be harder to standardize the refilling mechanism. And branding is such a huge part of soft-drink culture. I can't imagine coke would be happy with people drinking their product out of an anonymous thermos.

Note: Don't just take into account the energy required to create steam, but everything from the cleaning solutions to energy losses from the power generation plant to the location of the end user. Even the creation of a long term durability container from mining raw materials to processing and fabrication should be counted vs. the energy costs for an equivalent number of short durability containers.


-This is a good point. I can't imagine that the creation of steam will use more recourses than to produce a totally new bottle. Including transportation cost of raw materials as well as transportation of final product. But you are right. I need to back up my hypothesis with research. Anyone have any good places to find out real cost analysis of pop bottles?

Postby gadget--guy » January 16th, 2005, 3:23 am


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Perhaps more energy efficient than steam might be a warm water rinse with irradiation sterilization.

Probably the main driver for refilling bottles only will be the ease of accomodating a known standard size and shape. This size and shape may eventually be brand specific in order to keep people toting around advertising.

Postby IanVV » January 17th, 2005, 2:11 am


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I just saw this thread. This idea is very similar to what one I had when I first read about the design slam. I envisioned a machine that would sterilize and clean a bottle and dispense water into it. In spite of being raised by environmentalists I still find myself occasionally using disposible cups at the office because I'm just too lazy to clean my glass so I think the cleaning is important.

The wrinkles to my idea: mostly branding stuff. the bottle would be very memorable and graphic with a shoulder strap. It would be a walking advertisement just like those little white cords from everyones ipod and would be something that feels fairly permanent and solid. The container could also be set up to contain the recommended amount of water that an individual should consume. I also thought of including a magnetic strip so that the users bank account or credit card would be charged automatically.

I would also focus on water only and sell something guaranteed to be pure like distilled water with some minerals added back. There is really not much regulation in the USA on bottled drinking water and no guarantee that it is better than tap water. Also, some plastics have been shown to leach substances into food and drink that upset human hormonal balance. If people could be educated about this and convinced that this particular water was "perfect" then it could be something that really caught on -- reduce waist and purify eliminate problems from the most basic substance that we must consume while elimanating any minor daily hassles of paying for something or cleaning a container.

--Ian

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