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In a country like Mexico that more than generates 44 million tons of garbage a yearZero waste stores are targeted by a new generation of entrepreneurs who want to generate income and sources of employment but also have the motivation to protect the environment and build a better world.
To achieve this, they avoid the use of packaging, pouches or packaging, they appeal to fair trade, they sell in bulk, they use reusable containers, they go to local suppliers and it is not surprising that they do it in their factories For example, the use of resources such as water and energy can be optimized electrically.
The positive effects they want to achieve include reducing food waste in retail and ensuring food safety, as well as reducing waste from containers and packaging, a clear problem that presents a major challenge for supermarkets.
What do you sell? From cereals, cereals and seeds to pasta and dairy products; Products for personal care or household cleaning or everyday objects that are free of plastic or made from ecological or biodegradable materials.
Although there is no census of how many specialized facilities exist, it is calculated that there are a hundred online shops and between 22 and 25 physical facilities.
The zero waste movement is not a fad, but a necessity that will become a future lifestyle and a great opportunity to start businesses around this trend.
A zero-waste business has a defined customer profile: men and women between 20 and 50 with a medium / high socio-economic level who are interested in the environment and have a clear tendency towards organic products that are produced using sustainable practices. Most of them are millennial women,
s in the field draw them as curious and active peoplewho may be involved in certain movements (e.g. animalism or veganism) and most importantly try to reduce their ecological footprint.
“In the beginning, people didn’t know anything about the concept. It was an educational job. Now we already have a community thanks to the early adopters who helped us evangelize. We even know many of them by name, ”explains Karla Campos, founder of We are the earth, a brand of environmentally friendly packaging / packaging-free personal care products sold in-store and over 35 retailers across the country.
This educational process has pervaded different segments, but it is definitely hipsters and millennials who choose the model.
The world’s first zero-waste business started in London in the first decade of the century. Little by little they emigrated to the rest of Europe, Canada and the USA. In Mexico, the age is no more than five years.
They offer organic, ecological and reusable products that do not generate waste. That is why they are considered part of the so-called circular economy, which is committed to the reduction, reuse and recycling in order to avoid the generation of waste and the depletion of resources.
This goal has priority in Mexico, since after the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) We produce 44 million tons of garbage a year (1.2 kilos a day for each person), and if we don’t do anything it will be 65 million by 2050.
The problem is also global. The What a Waste 2.0 study, created by the World Bank, shows that 3,400 million tons of waste will be generated annually in 30 years (currently 2,010 million), with plastic waste as a clear threat.
With this in mind, the zero waste warehouse helps solve a problem for which government, society and industry are responsible.
Are you interested in the turnaround? You go with everything! But make sure you develop a really honest concept with organic and environmentally friendly products that are free of packaging and packaging.
In this round there are two basic channels to bring products to consumers: through a physical store (direct sales) or through a website (online marketing).
Direct sales is the preferred option for consumers who want to know what they buy, touch, smell or taste, find out where they come from and know that their consumption does not actually produce waste.
However, online shops gain followers. Jericoo good ethics This has been an example since it became an “environmentally conscious” online supermarket in 2019, connecting consumers in Mexico City to companies that produce or market all types of products in the zero-waste wave.
The owner and founder is Kilian Maillet, a 30-year-old Frenchman who, concerned about the amount of garbage that we generate in large cities, has launched this concept with a portfolio that includes fruits and vegetables, seeds, dairy products, dried chillies and Spices include personal care products.
The delivery is done by bicycle suppliers. Electric motorcycles are used for long distances. They currently distribute in the mayors Cuauhtémoc, Benito Juárez and Miguel Hidalgo.
“We use reusable wooden boxes as containers. We use reusable paper bags and glass containers for certain products, which we then collect and deliver to the supplier for hygiene and reuse, ”says Kilian.
One of the challenges ahead for Kilian and for all entrepreneurs in the field is the question of distribution: How, for example, can a consignment to the interior of the Republic generate as little garbage as possible if messaging services are the ones that set the relevant guidelines? . What options are available to you as stores?
The answer is still in the air. For now, the truth is that entrepreneurs also had to develop their creativity on foot using delivery methods.
“In 2016 I went on a trip where I realized that there are places without drinking water, but with enormous amounts of plastic. Something had to be done and because of my job as a filmmaker, I decided to create video content to make people aware of the problem, ”recalls Cristina Mendoza, founder of the physical and online store called Let in green and director of a non-governmental organization (NGO) called Cero Plástico, which distributes content for the care of the planet.
The production of this material prompted her to develop this business model, which, in line with its distribution, uses sustainability practices such as collecting rainwater and growing fruit and vegetables with organic waste compost.
Relationship with customers
The success of a zero waste business depends on the relationship you build with your customers, your ability to build loyalty, and strategies to keep them.
To this end, it is important to ensure the honesty of the proposal, to act as an intermediary / educator for customers and to raise awareness, listen and meet their needs.
Cristina Mendoza understood it perfectly and developed a business model with which she serves her customers on the one hand in Let in Green, a physical and online shop, and on the other hand, she distributes valuable content for companies and businesses through schools Zero plastic.
In this way, his relationship with customers begins in business and continues in external units, always addressing what is particularly important to him: protecting the environment.
Take care of all the details like this entrepreneur and give your customers the feeling of being kings, whether in the shop, on the website, on social networks, via WhatsApp or by e-mail. Try to be attentive and punctual across all channels.
At the same time, you can define other strategies, e.g. B. On-site or online workshops with topics such as recycling, sustainability or the manual production of certain products. The idea is that the consumer expands their knowledge of the movement and has a pleasant consumer experience.
Sources of income
In a zero waste shop there is a department for groceries, personal hygiene and household cleaning. The profits are 25% and 40% depending on the business area. The overall average is 30%.
The prices of some products are slightly higher (15% to 20%) due to its organic origin or production method. Nevertheless, they maintain competitive prices that, in addition to their proposal not to generate waste, make more than one consumer fall in love.
Income is relatively stable for most of the year, although a slight decrease in call costs in January and return to school can be observed. How much does the average ticket cost? At 350 pesos per visit, though there are those who do all their super and spend over 1,500 pesos in merchandise.
To support your income, you can introduce a range of everyday products that are free of plastic or environmentally friendly, such as toothbrushes, steel straws, bamboo jars, steel thermoses, etc., with which you can achieve a profit of up to 40%.
Obviously, your company’s financial success depends on good management and planning. So if you don’t have these skills, it’s time to seek help. Public and private universities, as well as some private consultancies, offer courses in finance, administration and accounting for entrepreneurs. Train yourself!
A zero waste store can be operated in a building of 50 to 70 m2 at street level (preferably anchored in a commercial area) with good visibility, which guarantees a high pedestrian flow.
Botany in bulkFor example, it works on an area of almost 70 m2 in the Mexican district of Condesa. There it sells products “without a brand or a predetermined measure”. This form of consumption is in vogue with the new generations.
It is owned by Silvana Huicochea, an architect who gave up her career in an office furniture company to do something for the planet.
“In 2016 I went to a mini supermarket in Germany where loose and biodegradable products were sold. I thought it would be exactly what we need in Mexico to solve the garbage problem. I came up with the idea of opening a similar business, and in 2017 we opened the business with an initial capital of 1.5 million, ”recalls Silvana.
Two years away, mass botany It is a benchmark because, in addition to its point of sale, it has an online shop, five direct employees and six freelancers, and a portfolio of more than 500 products from a network of 70 suppliers across Mexico.
To emulate what this entrepreneur does, you should first equip yourself with four or five employees who share an interest in protecting the environment and can serve customers easily (two can work in the morning and two in the afternoon, all under one manager’s supervision).
At the same time, look for a supplier that is geared to movement, and ensure the quality of their products and the formality of delivery. This point is important to be sustainable. Finally, focus on setting up the company. You can address a clean or minimalist concept or the environmentally friendly atmosphere with recycled items. Everything goes! The most important thing is to guarantee a shopping experience that remains loyal to the consumer
As you can see, the key elements for starting space, equipment, staff and supplies depend. Analyze what you need in each article and get to work.
To operate a zero waste warehouse, inventory levels must be kept up to date, losses limited, cross-contamination avoided, adequate personnel management achieved and more sold. One of these key tasks is the management of the supplier, who has to ensure two things: on-time delivery and quality.
Nature – a business that specializes in organic dairy products, desserts, sauces, compotes, flavored waters, cosmetics, and household products – did just that. The milk and cottage cheese come from a ranch in Ajusco; Querétaro yogurt, cream and butter; Ghee and Jocoque from the Valle de Bravo and milk from Puebla. In addition, there are other providers of personal care and cleaning products that they have linked together for more than three years.
“We sell in reusable glass containers that we disinfect and reuse. Each returned container in good condition will generate a refund or discount on the next purchase, with which the customer earns, is loyal and reduces his ecological footprint, ”explains its founder Laurence Cuvillier, a 37-year-old French journalist who was aware of the environmental problem and opened La Nature in 2016.
Let your business like this entrepreneur grow from an offer of ten and effective inventory management, but also from certain measures such as daily cleaning of public areas and containers, punctuality when opening, customer service and preservation of products.
For example, if the food is food, cool it at the right temperature, store it in suitable containers, and spray it regularly to avoid harmful animals. However, if they are personal care solids, keep them away from heat, moisture, and dust.
They say that in war as in business, the union is strength and in this respect the premise is not the exception. Therefore, it is useful to look for third parties to help you catapult your business idea, especially when it comes to a phrase that is in development and requires the reach and reach of consumers.
An example of this is Somos Tierra, which has formed an alliance with residents of La Marquesa, State of Mexico, to develop a conservation project that integrates the cultivation of plants that produce its products and create jobs for the community.
“We are in the process of obtaining our certification as Company B, This certifies the standards for solving social and ecological problems, ”explains Carla Campos, owner of this company, which is characterized by the fact that products are free of packaging and have not been tested on animals.
Another type of alliance is with established companies from different industries. Jericoo Good Ethics, for example, has partnered with Kellogg’s to sell its grain line in bulk.
“Kellogg’s delivers me products in bulk. He sends it in packages of 15 kilos. I pack it in paper or glass. The idea is to remove a lot of plastic and garbage, but sometimes I face the price challenge; I have to have very attractive prices so that people are interested, ”explains Kilian, founder of Jericoo.
Although these agreements are critical, you can take other paths. For example, trainers for ecological philosophy, who give workshops in your shop, suppliers of glasses, influencers, etc. You decide!
The initial investment to open a zero-waste warehouse ranges from 1.2 million pesos, which will be used for three basic items: a) initial rental and remodeling of the premises, b) equipment, furniture and decoration, c) initial inventory of food, Personal hygiene and household hygiene as well as d) administration and opening costs.
The initial rent and adjustment of the physical space absorb around 30% of this capital due to the hydraulic and electrical work as well as the work in the sales area, in the weighing / cash area, in the warehouse and in the sanitation.
Depending on the quality and capacity of the purchase, the equipment and decoration can mean an investment of between 220,000 and 250,000 pesos. The basics are a cash register, a cash register terminal, shelves and containers, two scales, an industrial refrigerator and various utensils (shovels, tongs); two computers, a printer, management software, a closed circuit system, an alarm and third party damage insurance.
The rest of the investment is used to buy the products for sale (500,000). Another 85,000 will be used to create a shopping cart website, develop the company’s image, register the brand and pay opening fees.
Remember to always have a “mattress” in the first three to six months to attract the first customers, and you will position your brand both in the neighborhood in which you are active and, if necessary, online, which will relieve your pressure Finances.
Ask for advice, find out and remember that this can be the start of a vibrant industry. And remember that every big company started as a dream. Dare to start!