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Image for the news item 'What to do about all the plastic bottles?' on 9 Jul 2020

Anthony Newman (1991) is the founder of Ape2o, a business with an environmental focus. Here, he tells us about what inspired him to tackle the planet's plastic problem, and how Ape2o is aiming to provide the solution. 

My name is Anthony Newman (matric. 1991) and I have fond memories of my time at Emma studying Economics. We were all blessed with great tutors (thank you Mike Gross!), a great location and beautiful gardens.

I’ve been asked to write a short piece about how I got to run a business with environmental impact at its core. So here goes.

When I left Cambridge it’s safe to say I took the path less travelled. A ski season, followed by 10 years in the music industry releasing records (some hits, some misses), 5 years in marketing and advertising ventures learning about brands, then starting my own businesses in drinks (a functional soft drinks co themed on extreme sports and then a craft microbrewery in Tropical North Queensland).

It was in Australia where the rainforest meets the Great Barrier Reef that I saw at first hand the plight of turtles and sea life due to plastic waste in all its forms and resolved to do something about it (having admittedly been part of the problem up until then). I spent the next 3 years after moving back to London in 2015 devising a plan to eradicate single use plastic water bottles, with the help of a great team.

Ape2o was born: the anti-plastic-bottle Water Company. It’s a pun of H2O with a proud Silverback Gorilla logo. The thinking being we should all GO APE about this situation and do something about it, each being our own Guerillas in the fight for change. But how? Or more importantly why? 

So the How is a network of public water vending machines that use micro-filtration and UV light to purify mains water (removing organic/inorganic impurities and microplastics, but keeping natural minerals) and that offer chilled and sparkling options for 25p contactless; a range of 100% plastic-free, steel refillable bottles; and a 10% promise to use 10% of all topline sales to transparently fund ocean, beach and river clean ups and anti-plastic education projects.  We currently have 4 locations – London Zoo, New Street Square & One New Change in the City, and Hampton Court. 

We plan to use a tech platform for good, with maps to find our “Big Ape” machines, for easy ordering of our “Silverback” bottles, and to relay the personal and company environmental milestones that we’re all about – i.e. plastic saved from landfill/oceans, resources saved from not making single-use bottles, clean up projects and their achievements.

The Why is…it takes a lot to change entrenched consumer behaviours, and people buy plastic bottled water because it’s damn convenient with trusted purity. But paying twice the price of petrol for it is madness. So we focus on the Why – BE a part of the solution not the problem, get swept up in this movement for change, see the results of your simple action every day multiplied by millions and how that empowers you to evangelise and tell others. Make re-use cool. Use incredible imagery of the natural world all over the Big Apes and in our socials to inspire people and connect them to good decisions and outcomes.

That’s how we go about change and building back better – the carrot can be better than the stick. I sincerely hope this “global reset” moment is not wasted . And I have to say it makes me feel great to wake up to this mission every morning. It’s incredibly inspiring and humbling. A looong way to go, but I know it’s worth it.

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