A guide to Barcelona’s sustainability startups and projects
‘Barcelona, in its Climate Emergency Declaration, proposed to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by the year 2030’
Barcelona city council is taking a number of steps to ensure that it is more sustainable and environmentally-friendly in the future. As a result, a number of notable sustainability startups have appeared in the city. Collectively, they aim to create a better place to live in.
In this guide, we’re going to look at what steps Barcelona is taking to reach its sustainability goals. We’ll also share with you the sustainable startup one of our alumni has created.
What is Barcelona doing to become more sustainable?
According to research, “79% of Spaniards consider the environment to be a serious matter”. We can see this trend emerging in consumer habits.
For example, since 2014, “the number of consumers of organic products has increased by 33%” and “actions such as recycling and the use of alternative transport methods to reduce CO2 emissions are in full swing.”
Due to the growing demand for greener products and services, Barcelona is creating a number of sustainable initiatives and is fast becoming a hub for eco-friendly startups.
Creating lower emission zones
In 2015, Friends of the Earth gave Barcelona a D- grade for air quality. Factors such as urban transport and port activity contribute to this problem.
In order to combat this, the city council introduced lower emission zones in January 2020. This means that there are now restrictions on the circulation of vehicles which are big air polluters – they aren’t permitted to enter the city from 7 am to 8 pm Monday to Friday.
Due to the pandemic, air pollution levels in Barcelona are at an all time low. The city aims to continue to keep this level low well into the future.
Employing a new energy company
Barcelona city council has stated that “the city aims to minimise its dependency on fossil fuels and to promote the generation of local, renewable energy to reduce CO2 emissions.”
To this end, in 2019 the city welcomed the publicly owned metropolitan electricity distributor, Barcelona Energía. This company works to create a new, more sustainable energy model, based on the generation of renewable energies.
The great thing about this new company is that, as well as being environmentally-friendly, it aims to save the customer money on their energy bills.
Cleaner methods of transport
The city is committed to improving the sustainability of its mobility and public transport by introducing new developments and networks.
This includes more bicycle lanes, widened pavements to encourage people to walk rather than drive, and the expansion of the tram network. Moreover, Barcelona is replacing its old fleet of buses with electric powered ones. The goal is to reach 114 new electric buses by the end of 2021.
These measures are in place to make the city healthier, safer, less polluted and better-connected.
Here’s one Barcelona-based startup offering city-dwellers a cleaner method of transport.
Have you seen the mint green scooters around Barcelona? They are the product of YEGO, a vespa-style e-scooter sharing app.
Co-founded by Benjamin Viguier and Tim Ougeot in 2015, the startup provides urban transport that is convenient, sustainable and noiseless. This new mode of transport is contributing to the city’s attempts to preserve the local environment and reduce air and noise pollution.
YEGO’s mission is simple: to improve our quality of life by positively transforming the way we move everyday.
Waste management and sustainable products
The city already has an effective recycling system, with dedicated bins for different materials including paper, glass and plastics. Yet, the city aims to make sure that all homes have recycling bins within 100 meters.
Furthermore, there are a growing number of Household Waste and Recycling Centres available to the public. These are known as Green Points and are specifically for waste that can’t be thrown away or recycled easily – such as appliances, clothes, batteries, electric cables and more. The goal is to improve the recycling process and keep the city clean.
Let’s take a look at some of the Barcelona-based startups working to help with waste management and produce sustainable products.
One of the biggest environmental challenges for the planet is the fashion industry. It is considered to be a major contributor to climate change. What’s more, exploitation and sweatshops are at the industry’s core.
To tackle this problem, in 2017 Ignasi Eiriz founded Ethical Time, a platform for ethical and sustainable fashion. Its objective is to offer a new option for people to buy clothes without exploiting workers or contributing to the destruction of the environment.
The company picks the best ethical brands and offers them a platform to sell their products to those people who are looking to consciously buy.
Single-use packaging is adding to the destruction of our planet. And more than 20,000 tonnes of this packaging comes from the take-away food industry.
In order to tackle this problem, Oriol Segarra Pol founded Bûmerang in 2020. They wanted to develop reusable packaging for food business owners.
Customers can enjoy their food in reusable containers and then return them to any restaurant in Bûmerang’s network. Bûmerang then picks them up, sanitises them, and sends them back to restaurants to be reused.
This food tech startup is leading the way in sustainable food development. Founded in 2018 by Dr. Raquel Revilla, Andrés Montefeltro and Jordi Bladé, Cubiq Foods produces healthy fats that can replace saturated vegetable and animal fat ingredients.
One of their most successful products is ‘SMART FAT#’. Made from 100% sustainable ingredients, this vegan emulsion aims to replace animal fats in processed meat products, dairy derivatives and saturated vegetable fats.
The company’s mission is to have a positive impact not only on the environment, but also human health and animal welfare.
ESEI’s Sustainability Startups
We are proud of the work our students and alumni are doing to help make the world a more sustainable place. One such example can be seen with our alumni Marcelo Cedeño who founded the sustainable startup Wará Guayusa.
Originally from Ecuador, Marcelo came to ESEI to study our MA in Business Management in 2017. Following this, he began working for the Ecuadorian Ministry of Culture. It was here that he saw firsthand the detrimental impact of mass agriculture on the Amazon.
This gave him the idea to create his own sustainable business producing Guayusa, a plant that produces a drink similar to coffee and is known for its unique balance of caffeine, antioxidants, vitamins and amino-acids. This plant has been part of the Ecuadorian Amazon culture for over 2000 years.
Eager to help the Amazonian people Marcelo explains that “we work closely with Kichwa Indigenous communities where Guayusa has been growing naturally on small plots of Amazon rainforest”. He adds that the business “creates a biodiverse agroecological system that generates a profitable income for Kichwa social development giving the people steady earnings.”
Moreover, Marcelo wants to help preserve the Amazon by working with sustainable agricultural methods. He explains that his scheme “helps keep the Amazon Rainforest out of the slash and burn, clear cutting agricultural methods that have created the degradation of one of the most bio-diverse ecosystems in the whole planet.”
So what’s in store for this business? Marcelo says that he is interested in selling Guayusa to more countries in the future. He hopes to continue “creating jobs for everyone, producing innovative products and, above all, improving the welfare of primary producers all over the world.”
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