How we designed and built the world’s first biodegradable and smart water filter

Last year over 250 billion bottles of water were consumed, resulting in unsustainable amounts of plastic pollution being dumped into rivers, lakes, and oceans, and making their way back to our taps as microplastics.

How did we get there? Why are people buying bottled water at a premium?

Water is the source of all life on earth.

Mountains, rivers, lakes, aquifers used to be known to offer pristine clean water. Water only tainted by few naturally occurring toxins, harmful to humans such as Coliform or Arsenic.

Then came the agricultural and industrial revolutions and we poisoned our most precious resource.

At the same time, governments started introducing water treatments such as chlorine to kill bacteria, all the while filtering technology was improving.

The overall outcome was safe drinking water, despite human pollution.

Unfortunately, chemical treatments combined with aging pipe infrastructure have resulted in a deterioration of taste and odor of running water… This has driven many people to make the switch to bottled water.

How does bottled water really compare to tap or TAPP filtered water?

Biodegradable is the way forward

When thinking about how to design TAPP 2, something was clear: we were not going to build a product which requires the use of disposable plastic pieces. If we are working towards reducing plastic, we couldn’t be producing more disposable plastic: enters TAPP 2 water filter, with its biodegradable refill cartridge. Each refill is made using biodegradable materials which can be disposed of with organic waste.

This, of course, did bring a few challenges. We wanted to offer a competitive faucet water filter. People should not have to pay more for doing the right thing. Equipped with all our learnings from TAPP 1, we headed to China, where we met with a team of engineers and designers.

One of the main challenges was to find materials which would be food-grade ready, biodegradable, but not too fast to biodegrade as they are constantly in contact with water.

Then the second challenge was to find a workaround for using glue. Other filter manufacturers use glue to maintain the carbon block into position. As it turned out though, most glues are non-biodegradable and have a negative impact on the environment, and unfortunately, there are still no biodegradable glues which can withstand such prolonged contact with water. We found a mechanical solution, compressing the carbon bloc between two bioplastic pads to ensure the carbon block is properly fastened into position.

Smart water filter

We wanted our filter to have a positive impact on the environment, but also we wanted to make sure that users would be aware of their impact. So we made a Smart water filter. By using Bluetooth technology, you are able to trigger a notification on your iOS or Android phone. This notification lets you know how much of your filter is used and opens the app to give you stats on how many bottles you saved, as well as how much C02.

But we went even further, we added a map of all the refill stations in the world. So whether you are at home, or traveling to a new city with your portable water filter (TAPP 2 is the size of a guinea pig) you now know where to refill a bottle on the go!

See how TAPP 2 compares to other water filters.

And now, what is next? What do you think TAPP 3, 4 or even 5 should focus on? Write to us at or reply in the comment section.

Originally published on on May 30, 2018.




Serial entrepreneur and computer engineer with the belief that we can all be the change for a better world.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Magnus Jern

Magnus Jern

Serial entrepreneur and computer engineer with the belief that we can all be the change for a better world.

More from Medium

We’ve Already Done Community Centers Well and We Can Do Them Again

Design Thinking the Future

Three circles of Design Thinking, Desirability, Feasibility, Viability

The Future of Working Together

Launchpads, the good, the bad, and the lucky?