Santiago Navarro

CEO & Co-Founder, Garçon Wines - Part 2

Read part 1 of the interview here.

Santiago Navarro is a serial entrepreneur. His first start-up in 2011, Vinopic Wines, was an online retailer which was the first to use science to judge and score wines for their intrinsic quality. Following this, he went on to co-found, the world's only hotel booking site to split a traveller’s stay across two hotels to enable them to save as much as 70%. Santiago’s now focused on Garçon Wines, as CEO and co-founder, innovating the 35 billion bottles used annually in wine and aiming to make flat, sustainable bottles the dominant primary packaging in wine.

What do you see as being the key changes in the industry in the next 5 years?

My vision for the key changes in the packaging industry in the next 5 years is closely linked to my vision for the future of packaging in the beverage industry as shared above. Sustainability will become fundamental to success and packaging companies will need to rethink packaging to ensure it offers true sustainability with triple bottom line goals.

A specific example of this will be better use and management of materials used in packaging. We exist in a world of resource scarcity and waste pollution so packaging producers and the companies that place packaging into the market will need to become responsible for their packaging and the material it is made from. This will require a mindset change and a move away from being a “supplier” of packaging to acting more like a “lender” of packaging. So, rather than supplying packaging to the market and walking away from it, then successful packaging companies of the future will place packaging into business operations, and they will control this packaging in sustainable, circular business models.

Plastic waste is a hot topic among the packaging community: what's your position?

Plastic waste is a hot topic among the packaging community nowadays as it has become a hotter topic among the world – consumers and shoppers too. Our position is that it is highly unfortunate and disappointing that the packaging industry, for the most part, have been reactive rather than proactive on this vital matter. Most of the industry did nothing when it was clear that we had a massive issue from plastic packaging ending up as waste in landfill or litter in our environment.

We come from outside the packaging industry and whilst we hold the industry in high regard, our position is that the industry had plenty of opportunities to innovate in their materials and business models to minimise the issues from plastic waste. We started developing our bottles in 100% post-consumer recycled PET plastic well in advance of any of the current anti-plastic sentiment. We decided to use recyclate as it was clear that it was the right thing to do and that by using plastic that was already in circulation, we would not be encouraging the extraction of more hydrocarbons, whilst importantly giving a monetary value to pre-existing plastic which would encourage recycling and minimise the chance it would end up as waste.

Our position is that fearing plastic and running away from it will definitely not help with cleaning up the mess that we have. We believe that by using post-consumer recycled content and by bringing plastic into controlled business models, we can then use the material until we find a method to get rid of it in a clean and safe way. PET plastic that is already in circulation, is the best and right material to be using now, but we need to massively limit the production of new, virgin plastic as we need to leave carbon deep in the earth to mitigate against a climate change catastrophe.

There are already some positive innovations in bio-based plastics and biodegradable plastics and whilst they’re not commercially viable at scale presently, we will monitor closely, and we will be amongst the first to use any suitable alternatives to post-consumer recycled PET.

What do you hope delegates will walk away with from your session at 8th Global Packaged Summit 2019?

A 21st century world requires 21st century packaging and that includes 21st century wine packaging, both bottles and cases/packs. The current majority bottle being used for wine is a 19th century pack which, in our view, is not fit for purpose in a 21st century world of climate change, resource scarcity, waste pollution, changing consumers, digital sales, and complex supply-chains.

I hope to take the delegates at the 8th Global Packaged Summit 2019 through the process which resulted in us at Garçon Wines creating a 21st century wine bottle and how this bottle works better from both a primary pack perspective but also from the secondary packaging it unlocks. I hope the delegates will walk away feeling inspired and motivated to bring about changes in their organisations. I will demonstrate how after two centuries of tradition, innovation that respects heritage can work for a different century. Finally, I hope delegates will acknowledge the vital importance of sustainability and that they will recognise the need to act swiftly in a way that safeguards the health of our planet.

Don't miss Santiago Navarro's session at the 8th Global Packaged Summit in Amsterdam (24 - 25 June 2019). Find out more about Garçon Wines' session "Wine Bottles for the 21st Century: Beautiful, Flat and Sustainable" here.