TAPP Water, water filters against plastic

The Barcelona startup has designed a filtering system for taps that is easy to use and affordable enough to compete against bottled water

The founding partners of TAPP Water The founding partners of TAPP Water

Some 40% of Spaniards drink bottled water. The main reason? The bad taste of tap water in some areas in Spain. That is the conclusion of a study by TAPP Water, a Barcelona startup that has designed a filter for taps that improves the quality of the water enough to drink it. According to the study, households on the Mediterranean coast purchase the most bottled water, while people in the Canary and Balearic Islands drink the least tap water.

The main reason is that the water on the Mediterranean cost has high levels of chlorine and limescale, which often cause it to taste and even smell bad. On the other hand, the Basque Country and Madrid are the regions that consume the most tap water, at 86% and 84% respectively. The condition of water pipes and health issues are next among the reasons why people prefer bottled water. However, the problem is that the households that drink bottled water consume about 11.34 litres a week, something that accounts for around 400 1.5-litre plastic bottles a year.

Business fighting against plastic waste

After living in Barcelona for 10 years, Magnus Jern and Alex Schwarz began to realise just how many empty water bottles they were throwing away every day and so decided to research the market and look for solutions so that people could start drinking tap water and so avoid such a huge waste of plastic. After looking into it for two years and trying out different filters from all over the world, they set up TAPP Water in 2016 to launch a new filter for taps on the market that was "easier to install, not too expensive and that helps to avoid the waste related to bottled water," says Rocío Alcocer, one of the startup’s five founders, alongside Jern and Schwarz.

"Seeing that there were no solutions on the market that could compete with the price of bottled water, we decided to create TAPP Water," says Alcocer. TAPP 1 is the first product by the Catalan startup, a water filter for the tap with a capacity for 1,500 litres. Since it came out on the market in June last year the company has sold more than 2,700 units of TAPP 1. "There is increasingly more concern about tap water and the condition of water pipes; and the Mediterranean coast is where the product is having most success," says Alcocer. Until recently, "the most common water filtering system were pitchers with integrated filters, but this system has a limited capacity and the filter has to be changed often," points out the entrepreneur.

The startup has already sold more than 2,700 units of its first tap filter and thus avoided the need for 600,000 plastic bottles

The TAPP Water filter is designed in Barcelona, although it is actually manufactured in Taiwan. The filter cartridges last for about three months, and the startup has an app that reminds the customer when the time is approaching to change the filter. "How long each cartridge lasts is an estimate, because a house in which two people are living is not the same as one in which there are eight; that is why we have the app," says Alcocer.

The company, which sells the water filters on its website, Amazon and in some shops in Barcelona and Ibiza, offers two ways to pay for the filters: the client can buy the filter and the first cartridge for 39 euros, or they can pay an annual subscription of 60 euros that includes the filter and all the cartridges necessary for a whole year, this way the entire water filtering system works out at only five euros a month. The firm already sells its tap filter in more than 20 countries, even though its main markets are Spain, Germany, the UK and, to a lesser extent, Italy.

More innovative and improved products

Another innovative product sold by TAPP Water is a filter for showers. This product came from a request from TAPP 1’s first customers, who asked for a filter to improve the water coming out of the shower, especially in the Barcelona area. This filter uses different filtering technology because the carbon activated by the tap is not so effective at high temperatures or under high pressure. "This other product sells quite well, even though it is not our main focus, as we think we can have a bigger impact on the environment with the tap filter," says Alcocer.

The startup, which  initially funded itself with its own resources, has now just closed an investment round worth 300,000 euros. What’s more, they are preparing to start a new company this October to fund an improved version of TAPP 1. "We want to relaunch the tap filter with the improvements we have received from the feedback from our clients," says Alcocer. This improved product, which will be smarter and will have different filtering technology, will begin to be sold at the start of next year.

TAPP Water’s next objectives are to improve the development of its main product and get more customers, so as to reach its target of avoiding the use of a billion plastic bottles by 2020. "Since we launched our product on the market, we have already saved more than 600,000," the entrepreneur concludes.

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