Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Spiffy here! I’m back with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Marco Iotti, the founder of PIO World. Let’s see what he is doing to make a positive impact in the world.
Spiffy: Thanks for joining me all the way from Lausanne, Marco! Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through PIO World?
Marco: Thanks for inviting me, Spiffy! Did you know that the beverage industry has an enormous sustainability problem? Selling sodas, it proposes sugar and chemicals mixed with water, a resource that is ubiquitous, in plastic bottles. If we think in this way, it sounds insane, but it is really what happens on a daily basis. The bottles we use for a few minutes stay with us for generations to come, and they contribute massively to the eight million metric tons that are thrown into the oceans every year creating danger for marine life and creating pollution at all levels. This is only the tip of the iceberg, as it comes with large emissions due to transportation, fertility issues due to microplastics, desertification due to water depletions, and more.
Spiffy: I knew single-use plastic was bad, but never in so much detail! What motivates you to do the work you do?
Marco: Water is at the base of life on this planet, and we are disrespecting it in a way that is endangering the very continuation of life. While we can live without oil and gas, we cannot live without unpolluted water. We are slowly, too slowly, understanding how oceans and the marine life in it are essential for all the ecosystems to survive. For example, without whales and large schools of fish, there won’t be any oxygenation of the oceans which would bring about the death of corals and all sorts of marine vegetation. This would start a dramatic chain effect on all the ecosystems.
Spiffy: Can you elaborate further on the impact of your work?
Marco: Our intent is to completely rethink the whole beverage chain, creating a decentralized beverage system that substitutes the absurdity of the status quo. The beauty of it is that we have plenty of new and mature technologies that can change the paradigm in a very short time. In short, we are aiming to build the internet of water and completely eliminate plastic bottles from the picture. We aim to do that through the use of reusable bottles and connected dispensing machines. At the same time, we are building a more entertaining and enjoyable experience for the users.
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent milestone or initiative by you or your organization, and what is its effect?
Marco: We are in advance conversations to implement our technological solutions in a few main cities in India—trying to touch a part of the 1.4 billion inhabitants of the region. Providing exciting and sustainable solutions to one of the fastest-growing populations on earth, in a country that historically has a very large plastic pollution problem, is almost a dream that comes through. The day that this will happen, it will be a great milestone for the whole planet.
Spiffy: How exciting! Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience before we wrap things up?
Marco: While there is a large amount of attention (and rightly so) on our dietary habits when it comes to plant-based alternatives, the same attention is not given to the issues that our broken beverage system is causing to the world. Water is really at the base of our existence, and we need more people speaking and bringing those topics forward. As L. Eiseley rightly said: “If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.”
Spiffy: Wise words! Thanks for speaking with me today, Marco—it’s been an honor!
Dr. Marco Iotti is an active tech entrepreneur, investor, and strategic advisor. He is the founder of ventures in Europe and North America in the field of nutrition, health & wellness, and sustainable consumption. He is interested in the holistic concept of health & wellness, and moved by the will of helping create a more sustainable world. (Nominated by Luca Zerbini at the Una Terra Venture Capital Fund. First published on the Ladderworks website on February 27, 2023.)
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.
© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.