20 Jun 2016

How much would you pay for bottled air?

9:12 pm on 20 June 2016

Air pollution is a critical issue facing many cities around the world and a Canterbury business is looking to cash in, selling fresh-bottled air from the Southern Alps to smog-smothered citizens around the world.

Scenic view of Lake Wakatipu with Southern Alps in background near Queenstown, South Island, New Zealand.

Lake Wakatipu and the Southern Alps behind it: Fresh air from the mountain range is being sold at $28 a can overseas. Photo: 123RF

Breathe Ezy director Phillip DuVal said the product was destined for China, India, which has 10 of the most polluted cities in the world, as well as South American countries such as Brazil and Chile.

The cans cost $28, and hold between 130 to 150 inhalations - depending on the consumer's lung size and the deepness of their breath.

"If you have ever been to Beijing or Shanghai or one of the other major Chinese cities ... and you've gone for a walk down the street, especially in winter, you will understand that the concept of having fresh air available, even just a puff or two ... is actually quite an alluring prospect."

People in New Zealand found it hard to get their heads around the idea because they were so used to clean air, he said.

He denied the idea was a gimmick and said the price of the can was reasonable compared to other products of its type on the market.

"We're finding that the product is being received quite well, so it's not an issue."

In fact, a a British company charges up to $170 for a jar of Welsh air with "vibrant and flavoursome undertones".

Mr DuVal said the air was collected using a "complicated system" which was "commercially sensitive" and pumped into reusable cans - although the facilities necessary to refill the canisters were not currently available.

Asthma and Respiratory Foundation Kyle Perrin said was not only wasteful, because the cans could not be recycled.

He said there wouldn't be a material difference to the person buying and using the product.

"An average person on an average day takes about 20,000 breaths. So, you know, even if you're an office worker in Beijing, this is going to last you a fraction of the total amount of air that you're breathing in every day.

"It's not really at all a viable solution to any kind of pollution problem overseas."

People living in polluted cities didn't need little bottles of air, they needed their governments to do things such as ban the burning of coal, he said.

Mr DuVal, meanwhile, said the product would soon be on New Zealand shelves, and it was likely most of the sales would be to tourists looking to take some fresh air home with them.

  • Making money out of fresh air