Meet the #EWWRAwards Finalists: Resid'ÚS on the symbiosis between business and school
The EWWR Awards finalists have been announced! In each category, the Jury has selected their top 3 finalists. The winners will be revealed on 15 May in Brussels during the EWWR Awards Ceremony. We caught up with Alba Bosch, founder of the social enterprise Resid’ÚS, which has been nominated for an award in the Business/Industry category.
What is Resid’ÚS?
We are a zero-waste social enterprise based out of Catalonia that focuses on providing employment to women at risk of social exclusion, while promoting alternatives to disposable products and packaging and fostering the circular economy.
In brief, what did the waste reduction action that Resid’ ÚS implemented as part of EWWR 2018 consist of?
Our action consisted, first, of a call to gather glass containers from the students at a public school in our city, Girona. It was a very successful call, as we gathered many, many glass containers of different sizes. We then cleaned all of them and proceeded to implement the action at three stores that are part of a local frozen yogurt (froyo) chain, Llagurt. The chain sells froyo with toppings in disposable containers which customers consume mostly as takeaways. As part of the EWWR 2018, they offered their customers the possibility to have their froyo served in glass jars, rather than disposable paper or plastic containers, which is how they normally serve their products. To that end, they used the jars that the students collected.
How did you come up with the idea?
Seeing how we are a zero-waste enterprise, when we heard that the EWWR was coming up, we thought that we had to organize something. Our scope also includes awareness raising and advocacy, so we found this to be the perfect opportunity to undertake such an action.
The local EWWR coordinator, the Catalan Waste Agency, has very detailed factsheets and a lot of literature about past actions, including spreadsheets with tips about how to replicate past actions or to find inspiration for new one. So what I did was first to read all this material to see what was good and bad about past actions. I then sought to understand what were the needs of my city based on what I observed in my daily life. It was really important for me to organize an activity that involved many different actors. I identified the businesses that were producing a lot of waste in Girona and where the takeaway places were.
Froyo made sense because it is a product that is consumed very quickly. Since it is eaten very fast, customers can easily return reusable containers to the shop. It does not pose a great hassle for the client.
In terms of collecting glass jars, it was obvious that we all buy a lot of products that come in jars that we then no longer need. So the easy way to collect them was to just ask families that no longer need the jars anymore. And how can one reach a lot of families? Through schools. Besides, in Catalonia, there is a designated teacher that teaches students about nature. By contacting them, it is easier to organise a collection campaign, as well as waste reduction activities to help the children learn about the 3Rs, for example.
What challenges did you confront along the way?
The most difficult aspect was to ensure that we provided glass jars of standardised size that matched the size of the disposable containers that Llagurt used. The business was very strict about the fact that the reusable containers had to be the same size as their disposable ones, because otherwise clients could have found it disadvantageous to use glass containers, especially if they looked smaller. But this challenge was easily overcome, because we had collected many jars.
The second challenge was ensuring that customers understood why it was important for them to choose the reusable containers. During peak times, when there were long queues, it was difficult to give clients comprehensive explanations about waste reduction. And part of the aim of the campaign was to increase their awareness about the topic in general.
What did you make of the outcome of the action?
We were very happy with the outcome. As far as we know, there had been no similar activity in past years, so we did not know what to expect from the action.
One of the things we noticed was that one of the locations was more successful than the other two. That was because that location also had a seating area. Since froyo is something that can be eaten quickly, customers noticed that they could sit at the table, consume it and then give the containers back. In the other two shops, the seating area was very small and most customers took the froyo to go. So it was more of a hassle for them to come back to return the jar.
It was useful to observe the behaviour of clients who buy these products. For next year, we know what to improve and what other businesses to target, as we would like to continue with this action in the following years.
Lastly, what is next for Resid’ÚS?
As a zero-waste enterprise, we are trying to diversify our portfolio in order to put on the market alternatives to single-use products that are locally produced. Right now, there are few zero-waste producers in Spain. Having identified the gap in the market, we want to fill it. We also want to make sure that consumers are aware of the fact that substitutes to single-use products exist outside of mainstream supermarkets and shops.
We are also looking forward to the next EWWR, as we intend to repeat the action and target more businesses.
Find out more:
Register for the Awards Ceremony here and join us in Brussels to discover who the winners will be!