Topic 2 Reuse and sustainability

Let’s study now a real case of a business.  Romualdo Benitez, foundation member of the Spanish circular initiative “La retornable” describes their circular model as follows:

“The company “La Retornable” is a very recent idea. We have founded the company in Granada, Spain, and we began to sell in February 2020, although we were working on the idea for 2 years. It is a factory that buys and transforms the ecological prime products of the local area, i.e., tomato, chickpeas, etc. into an interesting range of products, i.e., tomato sauce, hummus, etc., using glass returnable bottles. We sell the product in a bottle, and after use, the client returns the bottle to the ecoshop, we pick it up from the ecoshop, we wash it, following high hygiene standards, we refill it, and that same bottle ends up for selling again.  

At the beginning, we used leasing to buy the machines for the factory.  We searched for partners that could bring knowledge, passion, professionalism, and creativity needed for the next steps of our factory.

When we bring our products into the market, we give the same economic benefits for everybody: small and bigger companies; we need to be fair. We limit the selling of our products to our own region, as we decided to have a limit of commercialisation to keep our company in harmony with our nature.

Consumers received the initiative very well, as there is a big part of them that searches for more than the eco-label. They want their products to be local, seasonal, and ethical; and “La Retornable” has it all. In our company, we do not use harmful packaging, which leaves a relevant ecological footprint.

However, what really makes the difference is that we do not sell outside of Granada and therefore, our bottles will not travel that far. We buy the prime materials from the farmers in Granada, we transform the prime ingredient into a product in Granada, it goes to the eco-shop in Granada, the consumer buys, the consumer brings back the bottle, we pay the farmer. There is a positive chain that does not leave place for negative environmental consequences; we consciously follow circular economy practices and help the local society to keep strong economic benefits.

If anybody is interested into having a similar initiative, I would say that 3 things are necessary: to search for partners that can offer expertise to the business, to do sociological research to see where you should do your business and also to be brave and not have fear”.

Based on the example of “La Retornable”, how is reusing related to environmental sustainability and how is it connected to circular economy practices? You can also go back to the diagram of the previous learning activity to find some of the answers.