Manuel Desrochers and his sister, Noemie, are the founders of Aquaovo, a Montreal, Canada-based startup that designs unique water filters, aimed at reducing the environmental hazard from billions of plastic water bottles filling up landfills (see original story here).

Their trademarked Ovopur unit is a 23-pound ceramic egg-shaped apparatus that holds 11 liters (2.9 gallons) of water and uses the combination of gravity and a glass filter cartridge to purify ordinary tap water.

“Our target market is really 30-50-year-old young professionals, who really like the design of it and they’re thrilled to hear that it’s actually functional,” said Noemie (read her journal here), who added they raised the price for the filters from $560 to $660 after their first six months in business. “We really came to this price thinking this clientele is willing to pay for quality, so they’ll spend around $700 for the Ovopur.”

Desrochers said that despite the Ovopur’s premium price tag, the unit actually saves families money when compared against buying bottled water. After the initial expenditure for the device, Desrochers said it costs consumers roughly another $200 annually for three glass filter cartridges (they retail for $50 each, plus shipping), which have a four-month lifespan. Desrochers added that the average family spends anywhere from $300-600 a year on bottled water and that the Ovopur starts to save families money after two years.

THE PITCH

According to the Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC), a consultancy firm that monitors the global beverage industry, the U.S. bottled water market is an $11 billion annual industry and Americans alone consumed more than 8 billion gallons of bottled water in 2008. That represented close to 40 billion plastic bottles, according to BMC data. Additionally, Desrochers’ research showed that roughly 90 percent of purchased water bottles end up in the garbage or in nature and that 40 percent of commercial bottled water is actually tap water.