DOWNERS GROVE – Ohyo, the maker of a popular, collapsible water bottle in England, is expanding into the U.S. market via Downers Grove.
Ohyo was created by environmental scientist Guy Jeremiah in Sheffield, England, following a 2008 trip to Fiji. Jeremiah had seen thousands of plastic bottles washed up on the shoreline and was inspired to develop a solution to this distressing issue – a collapsible bottle that people can always carry with them and refill when necessary to have a drink.
The bottle, when extended, has an hourglass shape that collapses like an accordion into a slim disk.
His company has sold more than 500,000 of the bottles overseas, according to Ohyo business consultant and sales representative Laura Edmonds, and began its expansion into the U.S. this fall.
Downers Grove will serve as an efficient transportation hub for the product in the Chicago area, she said. The U.S. operations are being launched from Downers Grove because it is the location of William Beckett Plastics, the company that manufactures, warehouses and distributes the product.
So far, Ohyo has space at William Beckett Plastics, but does not have any dedicated U.S. employees, she said. As the stateside operation grows that will likely change.
The water bottle is made of food-safe, toxin-free
polyethylene that can be reused more than 10,000 times, according to Edmonds.
Edmonds recalled a similar experience to Jeremiah’s, witnessing the ubiquitous water bottles disregarded in the Alps during a recent ski trip. Jeremiah and Edmonds hope that products like Ohyo can cut down on that waste.
“Each person in the U.S. consumes about 20 gallons of bottled water a year,” she said. “And that’s a pretty staggering figure. And obviously it’s out of convenience. It makes sense, but I think that was really the impetus behind Ohyo.”
The company got a recent boost in the U.K. when the pharmacy chain Boots expanded the number of its stores that offers the product. Ohyo is hoping to be in all 1,500 Boots stores in the near future, she said.
The company is currently talking with major retailers in the U.S. Here, it is currently available for sale on Amazon, and through select independent retailers.
The company also has a mobile phone app and website named findafountain.org. It allow users to mark water fountain locations on an online map for others to find.
“It’s mostly populated with water fountains and drinking fountains in the U.K.,” she said. “But we’d like to slowly expand this in the U.S. as well.”
Ohyo currently offers a 16-ounce bottle. A 32-ounce bottle in in development.