I recently ran across a fascinating article in the Wall Street Journal: “With Bottle-Fillers in Mind, The Water Fountain Evolves.” It tells the story of how Elkay Manufacturing Co., a family-owned maker of plumbing equipment based in Oak Brook, Ill., has completely revolutionized the water fountain. Thinking beyond the old drinking fountain model, Elkay invented a new type of fountain that refills bottles. Talk about innovation…now that’s a “Blue Ocean®“!
Quoted in the WSJ article, Rod Magnuson, a product director at Elkay, says, ”We were really changing what a water cooler was.”
The result? A machine that fills a 16-ounce water bottle in about five seconds. The old-fashioned fountains take at least four times as long.
Not only is this a terrific new idea, it’s really catching on. College students like showing how green they are by tracking how many plastic bottles are now being kept out of landfills. Some have even held intra-campus competitions to see who could reuse the most bottles.
“Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa., began buying Elkay fountains after students campaigned against what they saw as plastic-bottle waste,” according to the article. “The college has installed 49 of the devices and says more than 1.4 million plastic bottles have been refilled by them over the past two years. Incoming freshmen receive a free stainless-steel water bottle. David Rabold, capital projects manager at Muhlenberg, says sales of bottled water on campus have fallen 90% since EZH2O fountains were installed.”
Elkay won’t disclose sales of the new fountains but states that they have been installed in hundreds of colleges and universities, as well as at least 15 airports, including Chicago’s O’Hare and New York’s LaGuardia.
Innovation, strategic Blue Ocean® thinking, ecological responsibility…this is a winner on all fronts!