Net Zero Heroes

Scott Dickson, CEO and founder of Phox Water

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No more plastic waste

The global bottled water market is worth an estimated $350bn. That’s a lot of money… and it’s also a lot of plastic, the vast majority of which isn’t recycled.

Scott Dickson

The environmental impact of plastic bottle waste is something most of us are well aware, but changing habits is hard to do. There have been numerous campaigns to champion alternatives to bottled water, notably from utilities companies advocating the virtues of tap water. Scott Dickson was motivated to use tap water by seeing the detrimental impact of plastic bottle waste, but he didn’t like the taste. He tried different ways of treating the tap water so it tasted better but couldn’t find a sustainable alternative. So he decided he’d make one himself.

Tastes good, feels good

The Phox Water filter was inspired by the need to reduce plastic but also by his love of filtered water. Most countertop filtration systems rely on plastic cartridges which, when used up, are tossed in the bin. This, to Scott, is disgraceful and disingenuous – how is it possible to say you’re a company that is promoting a reduction in plastic bottles if you are simultaneously creating heaps of plastic waste?

Scott’s sense of outrage about greenwashing, and his personal drive to create a product and a brand that has its mission front and centre and embedded in its DNA, is what lies behind Phox Water. The Phox Water product has evolved from his initial minimum viable product to his V2 version, which rather than the wasteful plastic cartridges uses an ingenious system with no plastic waste.

Scott is constantly innovating and determined not to rest on his laurels. He’s now pushing for a fully circular water filter where there is no waste at all. He’s designed out all plastic packaging with the exception of the main body of the filter, which is a glass and robust plastic hybrid, meaning it lasts for years and can be recycled at the end of the product life. Marketing has been guerrilla style and has been dominated by social media and highly successful crowdfunding campaigns. Scott is an extremely likeable, energetic person and his energy is infectious – it is easy to see how people want to work with him and how his personal passion has fuelled a brand that people buy into.

Keep it local

Manufacturing takes place in Scotland as he always wanted to have a low carbon product and promote skills and jobs locally. When his markets grow internationally he will look at manufacturing closer to these customers so that the carbon footprint of the company is kept to a minimum.

With his drive and mission-focused passion, I’m sure it won’t be long before Phox Water is a globally recognised brand - for all the right reasons.

Scott’s tips for a Net Zero Leader:

1. Be your own boss

Scott just doesn’t like to work for other people! It’s as simple as that. He loves the freedom of doing what he wants to do and he constantly sees how things can be improved upon and just… done better. For him, for his customers, and for the planet. That’s exactly what he’s doing with Phox Water.

2. Listen to what makes you feel good

Listening to his physical needs was a driver for Phox Water’s creation: having acid reflux meant that Scott was looking at tap water alternatives. He had heard that filtered alkaline water can change the pH and help with acid reflux. It helped him, but he couldn’t find a product that wasn’t wasteful and affordable.

Being aware of his, and his team’s, mental health creates a great workplace: Scott very naturally bring a happiness and enjoyment to those around him and he is conscious to bring positivity to the wider team. Every month, his colleague Ishbel puts together a collection of customer reviews so the team can read through the positive feedback. He finds this one of the most gratifying moments of his work life and helps motivate the Phox team.

3. Graft, listen to your customers, and more graft

An initial crowdfunding campaign in 2019 was hugely successful: they had over £100,000 of pre-orders in a matter of weeks. Scott has really learned the intricacies of reaching out to people via social media and how to run successful ad campaigns. This is now done in-house, learning by trial and error, listening to feedback, and working hard to improve the next iteration. Social media has been Phox’s main avenue for sales to date and it’s what has led them to have a physical presence in John Lewis and Selfridges – the retailers saw the Phox Water product online and loved it so much they wanted it in store.

4. Mission critical

Scott and his team have learned how to maximise their impact on social media through advertising and know that being authentic is critical to gaining interest and sales. The intention with Phox water filters from the beginning was always about reducing plastic. Making this a reality and demonstrating this to their audience showcases their authenticity. For Scott – and for his customers – brand, mission and product must always align.

5. All about the solution

Scott doesn’t want to be a consumer product manufacturer just for the sake of it. To do so is contrary to everything he’s built with Phox. He is solutions-driven and he wants the Phox brand to be well known for the quality of their products and the solutions these products bring to their customers.

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