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Gloop, the smart self-service public beverage dispenser machine

Redesigning the system to eliminate single-use take away PET bottles available for purchase in public areas

Photo of Alix Frank
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Idea Title


Where are you / your team located?

Europe & Brazil

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

Gloop prevents bottle caps waste by redesigning the delivery system. Incremental design innovations cannot save our oceans as we are still selling the solution with the problem. Gloop is a radical innovation that eliminates single-use take-away PET bottles from the supply chain, while making behavioral change. It is a smart self-service beverage dispenser machine available in public areas which enables users to refill their own bottles or glasses with soft drinks or water, either fully or half.

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

My idea applies to Case 2 Trevor and Benjamin.

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

Gloop applies to all cities around the world and is most relevant in high PET bottles consumption countries such as China, Brazil and the Asia Pacific region.

How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

The first unit will be introduced in a pilot metropolitan city and monitored over a period of 2-4 months. We foresee operational issues such as logistics and breakdowns. We will overcome those by continuously iterating and learning from user feedbacks. Once the unit is autonomous, others will be installed to ultimately enable users to spend a day in that city without buying a plastic bottle, before launching in other cities. Old product versions could be refurbished or replaced over time.

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.
  • Prototyping: You have conducted some small tests or experiments with prospective users and will continue developing idea through these tests.

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

Becoming a Top Idea is proof of concept. I will start building up a team to create prototypes and supply chain design. Working with the New Plastics Economy Accelerator Program will enable our team to access valuable information, explore further circular principles and meet relevant stakeholders. Step 1 is market validation, step 2 prototype testing and step 3 launch. Success is a world where no more PET plastic bottles are sold. Gloop is simply a facilitator and accelerator of that success.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

My idea emerged three years ago in a train station. I was thirsty but did not want to buy another plastic bottle because I already had one. I could not find one single water fountain to fill it up, therefore I drew the first sketch of Gloop in my idea book. While I was looking for inspiration for this Design Contest, I found this old drawing which I had forgotten and now looked like a Big Idea. I decided to study this further and realized it had the potential to disrupt the beverage industry.

Tell us about your work experience

Business student with work experiences in early-stage startups in Dublin and Paris and university startup projects (HackDCU 2015, CPEU 2016), working with a telecommunication engineering student.

Please describe your legal and organizational structure

No legal and organizational structure yet


Join the conversation:

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Alix!

Great video and prototype to really illustrate the idea.

How would you incentivise customers to use this machine over alternatives? Am I right in thinking that the first drink is free?

Looking ahead, you might consider helping the OpenIDEO community better grasp how this idea could play out by describing the next steps! What are some the next and timeline to bring your idea to market?

Do you have any existing barriers to developing your idea that you’d like to share to help the OpenIDEO community understand where they might join the conversation and provide feedback?

Photo of Alix Frank

Hi Kate,

Thank you so much for your comments!

Yes indeed, the first drink will be free. We want to develop an app that will enable users to create accounts and get discounts and/or free drinks after a certain number of uses. This app will also enable them to pay, report any dysfunction (and get loyalty points/discounts), alert the technical team in case of emergency, rate our services, give us feedbacks and recommendations on soft drinks that they would like. It will enable us to continuously improve of our product, access valuable customer data and prioritize maintenance efforts.

The next steps are the following:
First: market validation, from users and partners. We need to ensure our value proposition is perfectly aligned with the market needs. This will be achieved through market research and rapid prototyping. Once we have a solid proof that users will use and pay for our solution, partners will be more inclined to get into business with us. During that phase, the technical team will explore and develop various technologies to widen our options. We expect this phase to last 5 months or more.
Secondly: prototype testing. Based on the feedbacks and insights collected during the market research, we will be able to define a successful business model and build a first working prototype to be tested in various environments. The idea is to eliminate risks by testing the most important aspects of the product first before less critical elements. This phase should approximately last 2 months.
And finally, the launch. My goal is to launch Gloop as soon as possible, so we can test the technology in a real environment. We will launch one unit in a pilot city (chosen based on the results of the market research and PET botte consumption rate) and monitor it over a period of 2-4 months before installing new improved units in the same city. Once the city is fully equipped, we will launch the product in another city/country.

The barriers that we currently face developing Gloop are mostly technical.
Gloop needs to be able to refill any bottle, therefore should be equipped with smart sensors calculating the volume of bottles for precise refilling. We could use technical advices on this matter.
We want contactless payment only but we do have some doubts on the security aspects of mobile and in-app payments.
Additionally, as we want to use re-purposed materials, internalize repairing and discarding of our units and work together with our component suppliers to minimize waste and lower our production costs, we would require strong knowledge of reverse logistics and smart materials.

Looking forward to reading the OpenIDEO community feedbacks!

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