The circular economy model developed by Aquaservice is genetic. Since its inception in 1997 the company saw the economic and business opportunity of a restorative circular model based on the three Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle. A bet that has already received the backing of the prestigious Forbes Summit Sustainability forum, which has recognized it as a native circular company.
“From the beginning it has been a circular economy model, although 24 years ago I did not know, nor many people, what the circular economy was”, says Alberto Gutiérrez, co-founder and CEO of Aquaservice. “The model is based on a water service for the final consumer at their point of consumption, be it their office or home, through returnable, reusable and recyclable 20 liter containers. Both the container and the dispenser are owned by Aquaservice, what we offer is the product and the service ”, explains Gutiérrez.
The 20 liter jugs are returnable for, after being washed and sanitized, they can be used again, which on average they do so 50 times. And after this useful life they are recycled. Similarly, when a customer stops using a dispenser or when it needs to be repaired, it is collected, repaired and returned to the market. When its useful life is over, it is cut up and the recovered is sent to be recycled.
The company, which has its headquarters in Paterna (Valencia), It also distributes coffee in capsules, for which it also allows the use of the coffee maker, and half-liter bottles, in an initiative that they have dubbed the Minibox. “We have taken advantage of our reverse logistics to make it easier for the customer to collect their empty containers, which must be deposited in the same box where we have provided them and thus we guarantee 100% recycling”, says the CEO of Aquaservice, who stands out from project two key components: “We facilitate recycling and on the other hand, we do a joint work between the consumer and the company to increase the recycling rate, which I think is always enriching.” For coffee they are still studying a collection system. And it has replaced single-use plastic cups with 100% recyclable paper cups that can withstand more than one use.
In this way, Aquaservice has closed 2020 with a recycling rate of 82%, exceeding 78.89% of 2019. “We want to reach 90%, we are very close now, and to the zero waste goal, which is where we want to be as a company, and is one of our short-term goals,” says Gutiérrez . For this, we must “value more, being more precise not only in the materials we use but in all the waste that we can generate, revalue it to the maximum”.
Distribution is another of the company’s strengths. “To be very efficient in distribution, you first have to have a commercial strategy that helps us to have customer concentration. Second, we have 50 distribution centers throughout the country, and that’s what makes the last mile so much more efficient. And third, we add the use of technology to make the routes more efficient, considerably reducing the number of kilometers and time ”. The company has four springs, located in the provinces of Valencia, León, Huesca and Granada.
For distribution, the company has the largest hybrid fleet of delivery trucks in Spain and the second in Europe with 114 vehicles purchased in the last two and a half years, most of the Fuso brand. “Our trucks are eight tonnes and in that tonnage there were zero electrification options and there were only hybrid options through Fuso. And now, together with Fuso, we are going to do the first test of a 100% electric eight-ton vehicle ”, the CEO advances.
In trucks, the load is accommodated in “racks, which are the cages where the bottles go, and it is what we use instead of pallets or cardboard. Here we have made a very strong investment in a type of rack that what it has done is to help the useful life of the bottle be longer because they are more protected throughout the transport. And they are also reusable ”, highlights the manager.
All the initiatives undertaken have allowed that in 2019, for the second consecutive year, the company reduced its carbon footprint by 11%.
Gutiérrez emphasizes that “we are a company very focused on people and we want to be a good corporate citizen. We have that in our DNA and that leads us to try to do things as well as possible, in the area of sustainability, but also in any other area. In caring for our people, in caring for the planet, but also being responsible as a company ”.
The CEO of Aquaservice, Alberto Gutiérrez, was clear from its foundation that it was a company focused on people, he says. And initially focused on two groups: “The client, like any company, and secondly, our collaborators, workers. Shortly after starting I realized that if we focused even more on the collective of our people, it would have a much more positive impact on the collective of the client. Then, over time, we have added a third group of people, the rest of society, where we also want to have a positive impact. And sustainability plays a lot here ”.
At the end of 2020, the Aquaservice staff consisted of 1,870 people. “It is a relatively young staff, with 100% hired in areas such as distribution and customer service, because we understand that our people are going to be more focused on the customer, because what we want is for them to feel the company as theirs. This has been moved to a recognition [es una de las 100 mejores empresas para trabajar en España de Actualidad Económica] and we will continue working for it ”.