Interview: How Dopper Plans to End Plastic Waste

dopper-bottlesDopper is a Dutch social enterprise started by Merijn Everaarts in response to the global scourge of plastic waste accumulating in oceans around the world. The premise is simple – produce a reusable water bottle appealing enough to convince consumers to carry it with them, refiling when necessary from the tap.

When Dopper says “The Bottle is the Message,” what they’re implying is that the bottle becomes a communications vehicle to educate consumers and influence a change in buying habits. In practice, changing human behavior is easier said than done and requires creativity and persistence. Dopper has put on numerous attention grabbing events from flash mobs in Amsterdam to life sized plastic waves constructed in San Francisco.

The actual results? So far so good. According to Everaarts, 3 percent of the Dutch population owns and uses a Dopper bottle and as much as 25 percent is ripe to take interest in buying one. With Dopper’s ongoing launch in the United States it’s easy to see that if anything close to those percentages can be met in the US market, real change might be on the horizon.

Learn more in my brief interview with Dopper founder Merijn Everaarts after the jump…

Nick Aster is a new media architect and the founder of has grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place.

Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He earned his stripes working for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.

Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.

6 responses

  1. Wow! A social enterprise set up around getting us to lug bottles around and fill up with tap water. What amazing tech. No, wait. We all already have bottles we could put tap water in if we wanted, including the leftover PET bottles from the last time we bought a bottled drink.
    I rarely re-fill except at home. Why? Because most tap water tastes like the effluent from a chemical factory, and needs to be at minimum filtered before it becomes palatable. Combine with intermittent availably, uncontrolled temperature, dubious cleanliness of the tap (the water is almost always safe prior to reaching the tap), having to lug the bottle around even when empty rather than just pitching it in the nearest recycle bin, and of course, the inability to add any number of countless flavors, and there are just too many downsides to the re-fill strategy, not enough in general to offset the cost advantage. I’d rather pay $1.50 to get something delicious, cold, safe, and convenient.
    Recycling is the better option. I would guess that over 99% of the PET bottles I have used in my life have been recycled. This is because almost all of my life has been spent in Michigan, Japan, or Austria, all of which have either bottle deposits or ubiquitous recycling schemes.

    1. If something is wrong with your tap water then why don’t you do something about it instead of making the problem worse?

      But to the point – recycling is great but is hardly a “better” solution. Even if 100% of PET bottles were recycled there is still energy and resources used to produce them, energy used to recycle them, transport them around, etc… it’s better than chucking them in a landfill but hardly an optimal solution.

      1. I filter my own tap water at home before drinking it, but even then I find that if it constitutes a majority of what I drink, the chemicals irritate me. I drink a lot of filtered tap water (sometimes transformed into tea) at work. If I am out and about, however, I have no qualms about buying a bottle of whatever from the convenience store or a vending machine, or drinking flavored drinks at home if that suits my mood.
        The energy used to recycle my PET bottles is trivial compared to my other energy consumption (which, btw, is less than half that of a typical American). It would be a waste of my time and pleasure to try to root out such a small amount of consumption.

    2. So I suppose you’re not the target market. Why bash it? At the end of the day the main reason people buy bottled water is marketing, everything else you mention there is just rationalization. If clever marketing can change minds in a good way, that’s a story to me.

      1. No, we either buy bottled whatever because we want it cold and now, with no hassle, or because our tap water tastes like donkey heiney, even after filtration. People aren’t as irrational as you think. You could, however, claim that the incentives are wrong and that there are many externalities involved. You would be right on that point.

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