Bevi CEO explains how an idea for a product grew into a sustainable startup

Reducing impact on the planet isn’t an afterthought at Bevi – it’s the startup’s core business.

Co-founder and CEO of Bevi, Sean Grundy, wanted to work for a company where sustainability was woven into the business model from the start, and shareholder and environmental values were one in the same. So, Sean chose to start fresh and build that very company.

Today, Bevi’s smart water dispensers, which provide customizable flavors using filtered tap water and natural ingredients, have saved the waste generated by over 65 million plastic bottles.

I recently chatted with Sean to learn about how he wound up co-founding Bevi, and how the startup has created an efficient, customizable and environmentally friendly alternative to canned and bottled beverages. Sean was also an EDF Climate Corps fellow with Hilex Poly back in 2012.

Here is an edited transcript of our conversation.

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Here’s why EDF Climate Corps’ network-based approach is a game-changer for corporate sustainability

You know that feeling when you’re cheering for your team to win, and they do? That’s the feeling I get to experience every day in my job as Manager of the EDF Climate Corps network (aren’t I lucky?!) Yesterday GreenBiz announced it’s “30 Under 30″ – a global search for emerging leaders who are shaping the next generation of sustainable business. To my delight, I saw Kayla Fenton, a 2015 EDF Climate Corps fellow, included in this impressive group. This was exciting, but not surprising; the EDF Climate Corps network is filled with inspiring leaders, just like Kayla, who are tackling corporate sustainability issues every day.

I first met Kayla when she was preparing for her summer with Nestle Waters NA. In just ten weeks, she managed to surpass everyone’s expectations. “Kayla’s detailed analysis and cross-company collaboration created the internal engagement and buy-in to move forward with a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for my last company. Her great work inspired me to bring on an EDF Climate Corps fellow in my new role with Danone Waters of America to advance carbon reductions in North America for our carbon neutral brand, Evian.” Recalled Debora Fillis-Ryba, Kayla’s former supervisor at Nestle, now with Danone Waters of America. 

Now, with Amazon, Kayla manages programs to minimize the company’s footprint by eliminating packaging waste. Her efforts save the company money and energy, and optimize delivery by reducing material across the supply chain. It’s innovative, it’s sustainable and it’s economic – it’s winning!

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A New Environmental Design Tool for Packaging

Yesterday the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) launched COMPASS, a new software tool that corporate packaging designers can use to assess the environmental impacts of packaging designs and inform decisions about packaging changes.

COMPASS grew out of an earlier software tool called MERGE that EDF developed through our partnerships with SC Johnson, Bristol Meyers Squibb and Aveda in 1996-2001. The goal of those partnerships was to create an easy-to-use software program that companies could use to evaluate the environmental profiles of different product and packaging designs. Bristol Meyers Squibb and Aveda each used MERGE to redesign packages to reduce environmental impact.

In 2006, the SPC, an industry working group of packaged goods companies and packaging suppliers, conducted a review of available environmental packaging design tools. Selecting MERGE as the most promising among them, SPC approached EDF about updating and redeveloping MERGE for use by a broader group of companies. We licensed MERGE to GreenBlue, the non-profit organization that convenes the SPC, for its use as the basis for COMPASS. Our Senior Scientist Dr. Richard Denison, who was the original developer of MERGE, served as a peer reviewer for COMPASS’ new methodology.

The new COMPASS tool is supported by updated datasets, includes additional packaging materials and environmental metrics, and includes specific packaging fabrication processes not included in the original version of MERGE. It should be a good resource for companies looking to understand and improve the environmental impacts of their packaging. A license will run you $750 ($500 if your company is an SPC member), but you can get a pretty good sense of the tool’s capabilities by using the free trial. Check it out and share your thoughts with the Innovation Exhange community!