Vancouver startup sets up first zero-waste refill vending machine in city

Feb 8 2021, 11:40 pm

A Vancouver-based startup has found an innovative solution to make zero-waste products more accessible and affordable.

Soapstand creates zero-waste vending machine refill stations for soaps and detergents. All you have to do is bring a reusable container with you and fill it up.

Soapstand is currently running a pilot project at Famous Foods grocery store with a vending machine available for public use. It is the first refill station in any grocery store in Vancouver.


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“We’re doing some Famous Foods parking lot takeovers to have the machine outside the store, do some tutorials, and to give people free bottles,” explains Miguel Santos, Business Developer & Sustainability Innovator at Soapstand.

There are currently two time slots this week for folks to sign up and fill their containers using the machines, which offer biodegradable EchoClean dish and laundry detergents in two sizes: 500 ml and 1.5 L.

Santos says the pilot project at Famous Foods is expected to take place until at least April 23.

“People seem to be very enthusiastic about it,” says Santos. “It offers detergents at a much lower price than anything available on the shelf.”

Prices for 500 ml of dish soap and detergent are set at $2 and $2.37, respectively, with 1.5 L rates going for $6 and $7.12.

The startup has also created a new initiative called Drinkfill for kombucha and coffee refills. It is currently on hold because of the pandemic.

With a small team of seven, Soapstand is ultimately working to make a big impact on environmental sustainability in the city.

“Our company is trying to create zero-waste infrastructure to make people feel more comfortable living the zero-waste lifestyle,” says Santos.

Currently, there is only one vending machine operating at Famous Foods, but Santos says Soapstand is looking to install another two stations in the next few months at different retailers.

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