27 Jul 2020

Olga Villacañas at the Innovators Club of Girbau LAB

The sustainability of the planet is solved in a shared way, with open innovation. In the circular economy, it makes even more sense. To innovate you don’t have to be afraid to make mistakes and be very humble. This is expressed in this interview by the Director of Impact and Sustainability of Ocean52, Olga Villacañas. She was the last guest as a speaker at the Innovators Club of Girbau LAB.

Ocean52 is a startup of healthy and sustainable beverages that gives 52% of its benefits to the conservation of the oceans. One of its products is, for example, No Plastic Water, a natural mineral water packed in aluminium, an eternally recyclable material.

In the interview we have done, Olga Villacañas brings us closer to the innovation, circularity and vision of a startup in these areas.


How is innovation linked to the circular economy?

The amount of waste per capita is increasing exponentially. It is estimated that if we continue along this path the 2100 will generate 12 tonnes/day of waste versus 3 tonnes/day in the year 2000. A solution has to be found in all these materials that are now waste and innovate in new materials or new processes that ensure circularity. The circular economy is born of a need, it is a business opportunity.

What is the value of open innovation in a circular economy context?

All the value! We cannot think that we will solve a problem such as the sustainability of the planet in isolation, without sharing and applying knowledge globally. Especially in circular economy. What for one company is a waste for another is a raw material. One case that I like a lot is that of Precious Plastic, which have shared in open source all their knowledge to be able to set up small plastic recycling ateliers. A small atelier, two, three do not solve the problem of plastic waste on the beaches but in this way they have managed to have small ateliers on all continents wherever it is needed.

Olga Villacañas at the Innovators Club of Girbau LAB

How is circularity applied in Ocean52?

Any company, any activity has an impact. We try to minimize our negative impact and amplify the positive one. In terms of circularity, we apply it to the design of our products choosing eternally recyclable packaging, such as aluminium. You don’t always have to innovate in new materials. We have some materials available for decades that meet the principles of circular economy and aluminium is one of them, like the rest of metals. Besides, recycling reduces the need for energy by 95%. That’s why it’s the most recycled packaging in Europe and the world.

What is the most optimal way to enhance joint innovation between a corporation and a start-up?

The corporation has the know-how, human and material resources. The start-up has the agility and ability to see things with a different perspective. Honestly, what start-ups need most of the time are resources and help to open contacts.

What is the most effective way to develop innovation in a company?

Not to be afraid to make mistakes, humility to acknowledge mistakes and a lot of passion.

What disruptive innovations do you see for the laundry industry over the next 5 years?

During the confinement, we have seen how e-commerce, online shopping has increased… In turn, we are moving from products to services, as in the case of vehicles. I imagine that the number of washing machines at home will reduce and will grow the home pick-up service. I also imagine much more efficient washing machines with less resource consumption.

How will you wash your clothes in 2050?

What a question! I imagine that it will be washed with closed-circuit water, without soap, with materials that allow to absorb dirt without using any type of surfactants and with filters that retain the microplastics.