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GW Pilots Reusable Water Bottle Program
Startup True2o offers new service that aims to reduce waste from plastic bottles.
September 10, 2012
As freshmen set out to do service across the nation’s capital on Saturday, they had a new way to stay hydrated.
The students were given reusable water bottles from True2o, a startup that is piloting its service at the George Washington University this year.
True2o aims to reduce the waste from disposable plastic bottles while matching their cost and convenience. Company founder and chief executive officer Jim Margolis said True2o’s reusable bottles reduce the carbon footprint by as much as 70 percent compared with traditional plastic bottles.
While GW freshmen received a first bottle for free, other members of the George Washington community (and freshmen when they’re ready to get their second bottle) can buy True2o water bottles at Campus Fresh in the Lerner Health and Wellness Center, FoBoGro at 2140 F St. and Washington Deli at 20th and K streets. While retailers can ultimately set their own price for True2o, Mr. Margolis suggests a price of $2. Buyers can reuse the bottle as much as they like and return it at their convenience, at which point they receive 50 cents.
“Our belief is that by providing reusable containers in the same format and location that consumers are currently used to, we can make a significant step away from single-use containers and toward reusable containers,” Mr. Margolis said.
The bottles are made in Hagerstown, Md., and filled with filtered tap water from Gaithersburg, Md., which helps cut down on transportation. True2o utilizes radio-frequency identification tags that allow the company and its consumers to track the bottles. Mr. Margolis said True2o will clean, reprocess and reuse the bottles multiple times at its facilities before recycling them.
“GW is proud to pilot True2o. As part of its GWater Plan, GW is committed to reducing its disposable water bottle usage, and Tru2o provides an innovative solution, giving community members access to a convenient to-go bottle without the waste associated with single-use bottles,” said Sophie Waskow, sustainability project facilitator for GW’s Office of Sustainability, which purchased the True2o bottles for Freshman Day of Service.
True2o offers two payment options. Consumers can either pay as they go or sign up for a prepaid account and simply tap their True2o identification tag on a True2o kiosk.
In addition to being able to purchase and return bottles at Campus Fresh, FoBoGro and Washington Deli, the GW community can also return bottles to a return receptacle in the Marvin Center or West Hall. To help make it easier for students to refill their water bottles, GW has installed a water filling station in the Marvin Center and two in Ames Hall. Ross Hall has a handful of bottle filler spouts and several were installed in the Law School late last year.
True2o hopes to use social media to engage its consumers and encourage them to change their behavior. The company has created Facebook and mobile apps that allow users to track their purchases and refills and compare their activity with friends.
“To make positive change, environmentally better products need to be available to consumers where they are, offer a cost comparable alternative and create an effective and fun experience,” said Mr. Margolis.
While Mr. Margolis has done some initial testing, the pilot program at GW represents the launch of True2o in an urban environment. And he hopes to expand True2o to other retail partners across D.C. and eventually to other cities.
“GW’s willingness to support True2o has catalyzed other Washington, D.C., employers and institutions to engage with True2o,” said Mr. Margolis. “We expect to announce other Washington, D.C., anchor partners over the next few months.”