It is impossible to imagine modern society without vending machines. They provide convenient access to various beverages, including carbonated (fizzy) drinks. These carbonated beverages enjoy great popularity, but their production and consumption have various health, environmental, and economic impacts.
In this article, we will look at the public health, environmental, and economic impacts of carbonated beverage production and explore available alternatives.
The rise of vending machines and fuzzy drinks
In recent decades, vending machines have proliferated around the world, making it easy for people to grab a drink on the go. Among the many beverages available in these vending machines, carbonated drinks stand out for their fizz and appealing flavors. However, their widespread consumption has raised concerns about their potential impact on our well-being and the planet.
The known negative effects on health and the environment
Effects on health
Soft drinks and beverages sold in vending machines often contain high levels of sugar, calories and artificial ingredients. These drinks can contribute to weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other health problems. For example, a 12-ounce can of regular lemonade contains about 150 calories and 10 teaspoons of sugar. That’s more than half the recommended daily intake of added sugar for adults.
Fizzy drinks can contribute to weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other health problems.
In addition, soft drinks and drinks from vending machines can be a source of caffeine and other stimulant substances. These substances can have negative effects on the body, such as anxiety, insomnia and headaches. For example, a study titled “Prospective association of soft drink consumption with depressive symptoms” from the University of California, Berkeley, found that consuming two or more cans of soda a day was associated with an increased risk of depression in women.
Impact on the environment
The production of soft drinks and beverages sold in vending machines also has a significant impact on the environment. The sugar used to make these drinks is often grown on large farms that require a lot of water and pesticides. The manufacturing process also produces a significant amount of greenhouse gasses.
The study, titled “The Carbon Footprint of Soft Drinks,” was published in the journal “Environmental Science & Technology” in 2015. The study found that the production of one liter of cola produces about 1.72 kilograms of carbon dioxide.
Production of one liter of cola produces about 1.72 kilograms of carbon dioxide.
In addition, the packaging of soft drinks and beverages sold in vending machines are often made of plastic. This plastic can end up in landfills or in the oceans, where it can harm wildlife and pollute the environment. For example, a study by the World Wildlife Fund found that plastic pollution in the oceans has increased by 50% in the last 10 years.
Screenshot taken from www.co2everything.com/co2e-of/coke
The World Problem
Non-governmental organizations, organizations and public health representatives have implemented various collective approaches to combat high consumption of carbonated and sugary drinks. They conduct public awareness campaigns to educate people about the health risks associated with these beverages and promote healthier choices.
Some governments have introduced sugar taxes and regulations on advertising and labeling to curb the consumption of sugary drinks.
The years from 2015 to 2019 witnessed several significant reports and studies highlighting the adverse impacts of soft drinks and sugar-sweetened beverages on health, environment, and economy. The WHO’s 2015 report emphasized that soft drinks are the main source of added sugars in the diet, while the AHA’s 2016 report linked their consumption to increased risks of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses.
Additionally, the CDC’s 2017 report revealed alarming rates of obesity in the United States, affecting over one-third of adults and one in five children. The OAC’s 2018 report quantified the staggering economic burden of obesity, costing the U.S. economy $1.7 trillion in 2017. Furthermore, the CSPI’s 2019 report shed light on the environmental impact of soft drink production, significantly contributing to climate change.
In response to these findings, various organizations such as the WHO, AHA, CDC, OAC, and CSPI have been actively raising awareness and advocating for policies to curb the production and consumption of soft drinks and sugary beverages. The WHO has set a target to reduce global sugary drink consumption by 30% by 2025, collaborating with governments, businesses, and civil society organizations to achieve this goal.
The WHO has set a target to reduce global sugary drink consumption by 30% by 2025.
The AHA works diligently to educate the public about the health risks of sugary drinks and promote healthier beverage choices, while also supporting governmental policies to reduce consumption. Additionally, the Sugary Drinks Industry Working Group, consisting of beverage manufacturers, has committed to lowering the sugar content of their beverages by 20% by 2025 as part of their efforts to address the health concerns associated with sugary drinks.
Government regulations play an important role in promoting sustainability in the beverage industry. Stricter sugar content regulations, labeling requirements and environmental standards encourage producers to adopt more sustainable practices in production, distribution and waste management, contributing to a healthier planet and improved public health.
One of more progressive governmental practices in fighting negative effects of beverages with high level of sugar is so called soda tax. And it has proven to be quite popular.
Source: CDC – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/healthy_eating/drinks.html)
A soda tax is a tax imposed on sugary drinks. It is designed to discourage people from drinking sugary drinks, which have been linked to obesity and other health problems.
Soda taxes have been introduced in more than 40 countries around the world.
The first country to implement a soda tax was Mexico in 2014. France introduced a tax of 0.70 euro cents per liter on such beverages in 2012. Norway followed suit in 2018 with a soda tax of 1.30 Norwegian kroner per liter.
In the United States, the city of Philadelphia introduced a soda tax of 1.5 cents per ounce on sugary drinks in 2017. These taxes aim to curb the consumption of sugary drinks and promote healthier choices for the benefit of public health.
Several healthier and naturally sparkling beverages are gaining popularity among health-conscious consumers.
Promoting healthier beverages such as water, infused water or natural fruit juices is an effective way to mitigate the health risks associated with consuming carbonated beverages. There are alternatives to sugary drinks that provide hydration and vital nutrients without the harmful effects of added sugars and acidity found in carbonated beverages. Some of the more popular ones are:
- Sparkling water stands out as a calorie- and sweetener-free alternative to traditional carbonated beverages and offers additional benefits from essential minerals such as magnesium and calcium.
- Kombucha, a fermented tea, not only offers a pleasant fizzy taste, but also contains probiotics that promote gut health.
- Vina prebiotic sodas are a healthier alternative because they are sweetened with apple cider vinegar, which is known for its digestive, gut health and immune system benefits.
Water, infused water or natural fruit juices is an effective way to mitigate the health risks associated with consuming carbonated beverages
- Ginger ale, made from ginger root, is a naturally fizzy and refreshing alternative that also has antioxidant properties.
- Fruit-infused water is a simple but delicious alternative to sugary drinks that combines liquid with the natural flavors of fresh or frozen fruit. These healthier alternatives meet consumer preferences while supporting overall wellness and environmentally conscious practices.
The niche of healthier and sustainable beverages has already been discovered by various manufacturers around the world, with some brands catering to the growing number of consumers who want to enjoy healthier and sustainable beverages. To name a few brands known for their healthier and sustainable beverage options that are present in this ever growing market:
- LaCroix: Known for its range of carbonated water with natural flavors and no added sugar or artificial sweeteners.
- Spindrift: Popular for making carbonated beverages from real fruit, offering a lightly sweetened taste with no added sugar.
- Bai: Growing in popularity for its flavored water drinks sweetened with erythritol and stevia for a lower-calorie alternative.
Growing number of consumers want to enjoy healthier and sustainable beverages.
- GT’s Living Foods: Known for making kombucha, a fermented tea drink, in a variety of flavors that contains probiotics and a natural carbonation.
- Harmless Harvest: Known for its sustainably sourced, organic coconut water that is free of added sugars and preservatives.
These are bottled drinks that you can buy in the market today. But is there another, different alternative? Something even more ecological?
There are! There are dispensers in existance that can mix you a drink on the spot, adjusting the size of your drink and choosing between still and sparkling options. One of these solutions is TopJuicer, which opens another very interesting niche in the FoodTech market, where juice with natural ingredients is made on the spot and not served in a bottle.
And there is another newcomer to the market. The state-of-the-art smart drink dispenser that makes personalized drinks with natural ingredients, produced in Germany.
Introducing “Re:Drink“,” a state-of-the-art smart drink dispenser that creates personalized drinks with natural ingredients. The innovative system uses only a minimal amount of concentrated natural flavors and tap water, allowing the user to determine the desired level of flavor, sweetness, fizz and more. The result is a truly customized beverage tailored to personal preferences.
The three-person team of Eberhard Harnoncourt, Adrian Beissel and Alex Colucci founded the company in 2023 and has managed to get their first seed investment. The Munich-based company from the FoodTech has been funded by public grants and early angel investment and is targeting a seed round in late 2023.”
Re:drink has been funded by public grants and early angel investment.
Adrian Beissel is the founder and takes care of sales and organization of the company. Eberhard Harnoncourt is the other founder and responsible for product and operations. Alex Colucci is Re:Drink’s Software Lead.
The company believes its target market in Germany is worth EUR 491 million. The serviceable European market (SAM) is worth up to 20.5 billion euros. For now, however, the team is focused on the Beachhead market, which accounts for 3% of Munich’s B2B office market and is worth EUR 3.5 million.
The founders of Re:Drink are very passionate about the environmental damage caused by the transportation of bottled drinks. They want to change that by using filtered water from the tap and reducing the use of plastic or even glass bottles. This is what Founder and CEO of Re:Drink has to say about the issue:
Adrian BeisseI (Founder and CEO of Re:Drink): “I would argue that a large part of the environmental damage of bottled beverages is due to transportation, since beverages in Germany are transported hundreds of kilometres before being consumed.”
How does it work?
According to the team, the Re:Drink Dispenser optimizes logistics by using tap water and reduces logistics by 85%, which is in line with their slogan “Decentralising bottling plants”. With an automatic beverage mixing system powered by natural ingredients, users can customize their drinks based on preference by adjusting cooling, carbonation and flavor strength to enjoy personalized, low-sugar beverages.
In addition, the installed Grade-A piped water filter ensures certified healthy water quality and remineralizes the water for added benefits.
Re:drink slogan is “Decentralising bottling plants”.
There is also a “smart” side of the product. Re:drink is also IoT technology, meaning the device communicates with and sends user data to the cloud enabling flavour forecasting.
The Re:Drink team concludes by promising that by using its solution, emissions are reduced, individual healthy preferences are taken into account, and operators benefit from cost and time savings. The dispenser can save up to 4.5 tons of CO₂ annually when used regularly by 70 users. This is equivalent to a smaller company.
Re:Drink’s business model revolves around offering fair, sustainable and natural F&B products to meet the growing demand of conscious consumers.
Re:Drink not only caters to consumer preferences, but also offers economic benefits for businesses. The smart dispensers allow companies to significantly reduce their beverage spend. For example, a Hamburg-based company with 70 employees spent €47,000 per year on beverages (€2.6 per employee/working day) and invested 2 to 8 hours per week in beverage handling.
Re:Drink is scheduled to launch in November 2023.
Re:Drink offers its dispenser to businesses as a B2B subscription service, providing a carefree service and saving up to 65% on beverage costs. The exact price for this service will be announced in the near future.
Re:Drink successfully launched its first dispenser in May 2023 in a co-working space in May 2023 and is bringing its beverage dispensing service to several Munich offices.
Re:Drink is poised to deliver a comprehensive solution that addresses consumer preferences, sustainability, health awareness and economic efficiency in the beverage industry.
Re:Drink is offering fair, sustainable and natural F&B products to meet the growing demand of conscious consumers. Transfering experience of mixing all natural soft drink from ones kitches using technological improvements is something many people can relate to.
The hallmarks of a solid investment thesis can be found in Re:Drink. The product is entering very popular new market of sustainable drinks, with its own niche of natural ingredients juice dispensers for commercial use. And here there are not that many competitors to be found.
Since the product has just been launched, we cannot predict how many users it will have in the future, but it is safe to say that familiarity with mixing juices with water will guarantee users for the future. Since it is very easy to add more users, the scalability of this business is guaranteed as long as the juices or the variety of juices keep the customers interested.
The networking effect is limited to the work environment where the dispenser is placed and not to the environment outside this work environment. This means that sales depend mainly on B2B marketing and direct sales. Therefore, investments in these two areas will be crucial for the future sale of the product.
In terms of opportunities for investors, our verdict is as follows. The potential for accelerated growth in a fairly significant and accessible market is easily achievable as long as the business model keeps business owners happy with reasonable pricing and the flavours meet the exquisite tastes of daily dispenser users. We also see the defensibility of the product in this flavour space. We believe that with announced version V.2 of the Re:drink dispenser this will be even easier to achieve.
If we think about larger commercial users like canteens and hospitality players, Re:Drink will have to compete with bigger brands. Therefore, it seems like a good idea to stay in the middle and serve work environments for up to 70-100 employees. The sustainability and future success of the company will depend on investments in marketing and distribution to keep the brand’s position at the forefront and successfully differentiate itself from similar suppliers already on the market and new ones that may soon enter the market.
Finally, management, which has so far succeeded in securing the first round of investments, must think about strengthening its sales department and continuing to explore the market in order to remain at the forefront of satisfying customers’ taste buds.