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BottleTap - Saving the environment, one pull at a time

Making enjoying our favorite drinks easier, more convenient and responsible — it's Coke Freestyle, for the environmental generation.

Photo of James Neumann
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BottleTap is a service concept which allows a user with an NFC-enabled bottle, to freely (and cheaply) buy, drink and enjoy their favorite beverages.

Designed to be high-quality and reusable, the BottleTap bottle is simple, but it hides an interesting secret in its base — a tiny NFC/RFID chip. This small addition allows the bottle to communicate, not only with the owner (tracking data like bottles saved) but also BottleTap taps, which are managed and maintained by businesses, gas stations, coffee shops and just about anywhere people buy bottled products.

A user with a BottleTap bottle is able to access this network of BottleTap taps and enjoy whatever is on tap in that location. Think about it like a Coke Freestyle machine for the environmentally-conscious generation. These taps, however, are only usable when paired with BottleTap bottles the amount that the user takes is all that they are charged for, and because this is like buying from a fountain machine, the price is lower and the user only pays for what they want — cutting down on product waste, and removing plastic packaging from the equation.

The benefits extend further than the BottleTop owner themselves. For partner companies like Coca-Cola, Starbucks or Pepsi, they have a chance to get their products in front of a new generation, at a lower price point, in a fresher state, all while cutting out the expense of transporting and mfg. plastic packaging. The shop owner gets the benefit of reducing the inventory footprint required and gets to provide a higher quality product, at a better price — just the way their customer likes it.

The possibilities are near endless for BottleTap. Imagine getting your morning coffee without standing in line and getting the exact amount you want so the rest doesn't go cold — pretty cool right? 

BottleTap's connected nature provides visibility and a whole new level of transparency in regards to an individual's impact on the reduction of plastics in our world. Tying these devices, the user communities together will usher in a new way of enjoying our drinks in a way that is less expensive, more profitable and perhaps most importantly of all good for the earth.

Idea Title

BottleTap - Saving the world, one pull at a time.

Company / Organization Name


Where are you / your team located?

Minneapolis - Palo Alto

How does this Idea redesign unrecyclable small format plastic items that often end up as waste?

It removes them from the equation by providing an alternative delivery of beverage enjoyment. BottleTap's connected bottle and tap service allow users to get what they want with less money, less friction, and a lot less waste. By providing an alternative to the traditional, wasteful means of enjoying a beverage, BottleTap provides options to those who want a different way, but don't know what to do.

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

Mark, Anne, Trevor & Benjamin would be the most likely to benefit from this idea — they are all conscious of their impact on the environment, and even though willing don't have compelling or effective ways of making a change in their routines. All of them are from relatively populous areas in developed countries, which this idea would require.

In what geographical context or area does your Idea plan to operate / solve?

Initial implementation would have to be in developed areas where an infrastructure like this could be installed and maintained. Targeting these "high-waste" areas also increases the net impact of the program.

How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

I would love to see the idea introduced at a small scale with a small number of partner stores and drink providers. If the idea can be validated it would be wonderful to see how we could apply the concept across industries (Gas Stations => QSR => Retail). Certainly, initial partnerships, production, and installation will be an expensive challenge — but one worth fighting!

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Research & Early Testing: You are exploring an idea, gathering inspiration and information needed to test it with real users.

Please describe how becoming a Top Idea and working with the Think Beyond Plastics Accelerator Program will help to accelerate your solution.

Certainly, the product-market fit is a BIG question and having help solidifying a business plan, validating market interest, optimizing manufacturing processes, and securing partnerships would all be hugely valuable and would be something I'd look to walk away with. I would have to work closely with IoT and embedded systems engineers to gather a clearer idea of what the cost to roll such a system out would be as well.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

During the OpenIDEO hackathon in Palo Alto my team tried to find ways of making "bulk" sexy — that core of the idea remains — how might we encourage reuse of containers for shopping?Adding to this the goal of getting bottle caps off beaches I wondered if there was a way to do bulk soda, the closest thing I found was fountain soda. Finally, I wanted a way to visualize individual impact and make the service cheaper and easier, so I decided to use an NFC "key" to track and encourage reuse.

Tell us about your work experience

I'm a digital product designer living in Minneapolis, with my heart in San Francisco.

Please describe your legal and organizational structure



Join the conversation:

Photo of Ludvik Herrera

I see this useful, but I think it should go further and address the paradigms of re-use and recycling to consume less packaging. How might we do this?

Photo of James Neumann

Ludvik Herrera I couldn't agree more and would love to continue to explore the concept of smart, reusable containers like the one outlined, the challenge with all of this is the idea of always having this bottle on you to get the benefit — perhaps some sort of a rental program in conjunction with this could be interesting to follow.

Thank you for your comments!