As part of our Eco Heroes series for our Sustainability issue, we talk to five of the city’s most innovative eco-warriors saving Mother Earth, one impactful idea at a time. Here, Ada Yip, CEO of Urban Spring, shares her story.
Hong Kong residents buy more than 1.5 million bottles of water a day. Ada Yip, CEO of the social enterprise Urban Spring, is curbing that number with an innovative business solution: the building of a chain of water refilling stations across the city.
“With the amount of water bottles we consume in a day, we could fill up the IFC building 737 times,” says Ada, who used to work in finance. “We wanted to change that.”Part of the problem is the nature of Hong Kong, she says. It is such a walkable city with so many convenience stores that it’s easy for residents to buy water bottles without thinking about the environmental consequences.
Urban Spring’s refilling station, called Well, isn’t your typical office water dispenser with its plastic tank. It connects directly to a water pipe through a filter nozzle, and it collects data like customer usage and possible filter problems and sends it back to Ada’s team. The Well also shows customers how much plastic they’ve saved by bringing their own bottles.
Urban Spring has established more than 200 Wells in Hong Kong since it was founded in 2017, and Ada estimates they have saved more than two million bottles so far. A contributor to Urban Spring’s success is its use of data to drive consumers to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle, Ada says.
“A single plastic water bottle requires 33 times more energy to produce than using our product. Being sustainable is more than just feeling good about saving the environment. We’re showing customers that being sustainable benefits them in their daily lives.”