Soulbottles Wants Startups to Give Up the Plastic

By Conor Rushby |

The influx of startups and other technology-related companies to Berlin is still very much on – Wayfair, for example, recently moved from Munich – and one social business is hoping to take advantage of this trend to do some environmental good.

The soulbottles project involves selling customised glass bottles for long term use, thereby reducing the use of plastic bottles and CO2 emissions. Profits are donated to charity : water to help widen access to clean drinking water.

On paper everybody wins, but while it’s certainly a noble cause, it might take a lot to convince people to part with their plastic. Arguments for ditching your Evian are pretty strong – plastifiers have been linked to cancer and infertility, not to mention the pollution caused when in most Western countries tap water is just as good, if not better.

Another barrier to success is that a single soulbottle costs €19. But at least you can pick a design out from their current range, get good use out of it, and not stress about your sperm.

Having only launched in August, soulbottles is facing the familiar problem of how to reach its market on the cheap. But co-founder Georg Tarne has a few strategies up his sleeve, and the startup scene will play an important role. The team is targeting companies and individuals who want their logos printed on bottles – when they buy ten or more – which can then be used as office accessories or conference give aways.

They will also offer to include how much people have donated to the project on the bottle while uploading your own designs is planned as well. In addition, the team is eyeing up Berlin’s many restaurants, where diners could buy tap water served in a soulbottle with the money going to charity.

For the moment these are just plans, but there is an ongoing Facebook graphic design competition to bring exposure – with the public voting on the artwork – and the winner being entitled to €1 for every bottle sold with that design.

Orders are currently sent to the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, but the startup is currently looking for an additional production facility in Berlin. The team, meanwhile, are themselves spread out geographically; Georg is in Berlin but co-founder Paul Kupfer lives in Vienna as does website developer Florian Hammer, while investor Bernardo Saorin lives near Munich.

For now, the focus is on solving the problem of using smashable glass by developing a new bottle design to make the glass currently used lighter and more durable, with an additional material sleeve. But once you leave the details, the aims remain extremely lofty: “If soulbottles’ profile really takes off,” Georg added, “we could impact in the next ten years a few million people who don’t have access now to clean drinking water.”