If you frequently buy ice for your cooler, lunchbox or your business, you probably buy ice from a convenience store. But is this the best source of ice? Let’s consider costs, sanitation, environmental impact and other factors as we compare vended ice vs convenience store ice.
What is Vended Ice?
First, what is vended ice? How does it work?
Vending machines across America tap into local water supplies and use multi-layered filtration to provide clean, clear ice on demand. Many of these machines also provide clean, fresh drinking water too. These ice machines are manufactured by Ice House America and they’re owned and maintained by local business owners. Customers can fill up bags provided at the machine with ice, or bring their own receptacle for ice or water. When making a purchase, customers can pay at the machine using cash or a credit card, or they can make touchless purchases using the ICE2U app.
If you’re wondering where your closest ice vending machine is, the ICE2U app can help. If there’s an ice vending machine close to you, you may be comparing vended ice vs convenience store ice, and wondering which is better.
Vended Ice vs Convenience Store Ice: Which is Better?
When it comes to price in the vended ice vs convenience store ice comparison, vended ice is a clear winner. You’ll not only get more ice from an ice vending machine compared to convenience store ice, but you’ll also pay less.
Though costs vary a bit from location to location, ice from a grocery store or convenience store generally costs about .35 to .40 cents per lb, compared to .15 to .20 cents per lb of vended ice. Looking at full bags, this amounts to about $2.89 for a 7 lb bag from a convenience store, compared to $2.50 for a 16 lb bag or $1.75 to $2 for a 10 lb bag. Customers can take advantage of even more discounts using the ICE2U app and collecting rewards.
Why is vended ice cheaper? There’s a few reasons for this. Ice from a vending machine is made on-the-spot, so there’s no need to cover transportation or storage costs. Also, there’s no waste. Ice vending machines only produce one item, so there’s no need for extra mark-up to contribute to a larger store’s or chain’s revenue.
Whether you’re using ice for cold storage or you’re using it in your drinks, or both, your ice should be clean. Ice from convenience stores may have a few sanitation hazards. First, this ice is handled by multiple people before it’s handled by the customer, including the supplier, shipping company, and store employees. Some storage containers also contain mold, and can expose the ice to the mold as well.
Ice and water vending machines tap into the local water supply and filter the water thoroughly before making and dispensing ice and water. The ice isn’t stored for long periods, and it’s only handled by the end customer. If you make purchases on the ICE2U app, you don’t even have to handle cash.
It seems like convenience store ice would be the logical choice if speed and ease is your primary concern. However, you’ve probably waited in line at some point to get your ice, or waited for an employee to unlock the ice storage container. Since ice and water vending machines only sell the two products, you won’t have to wait for other customers to make lengthy purchases or wait for an employee to help you. You can simply drive up, make your purchase, fill your container, and be on your way! The ICE2U app makes buying ice and water even more convenient with touchless purchases and rewards.
Plastic is a serious environmental problem. About 380 million tons of plastic waste a year takes up landfill space, kills wildlife, creates toxic chemicals, and much more. With an ice and water vending machine, you can fill up your own container, and reduce plastic waste. Simply refilling a water bottle instead of using a plastic bottle can reduce plastic, carbon emissions, and have a lot of positive effects. In fact, ice and water vending machines save about 250,000 bottles per location. That’s about 500 million bottles a year!
Before convenience store ice makes its way to your cooler, it first has to make its way to the store. Regular ice deliveries from the supplier can start to add up fast. Transportation and shipping are among the biggest contributors to carbon emissions, amounting to 1.9 billion tons of CO2 every year in the U.S. alone.
Besides reducing plastic waste, vended ice also reduces carbon emissions from transportation. Since the ice is made on the spot from the local water supply after filtration, there’s no transportation necessary.
Ice vending machines are owned by locals who live and work in or near the neighborhood. In emergency situations, like hurricanes and tornadoes, owners have stepped up to help communities get clean water and ice. Ice House America also supports these communities in need, donating hundreds of thousands of pounds of ice to help residents without power keep food cold and get clean drinking water.
So, which is better? Vended ice wins in every category, from environmental impacts to price to convenience to sanitation. You can find your closest ice vending machine using the ICE2U app. Or, you can even invest in an ice vending machine yourself!