3 years of Zero Waste Living Lab – looking back with Anne

For its 3rd-year-anniversary, we want to look back at everything the Zero Waste Living Lab (ZWLL) program has achieved so far. With the ZWLL venture building program, Enviu tackles single-use plastics in Indonesia by building reuse and refill showcase ventures and by inspiring consumers and organizations globally to follow the movement. For this occasion, who better to talk to than Anne Poggenpohl, Venture Builder at Enviu who has been involved in the ZWLL program since day one and has seen it grow along the years. We asked her a couple of questions..

What was one thing that surprised you in the last 3 years of building the ZWLL program?

A couple of weeks ago, we had an event coming up in Indonesia and the topic was “Say no to single-use plastic waste”. A few days before the event, players in the recycling industry contacted the organizers, requesting to be part of the event to justify recycling. I was so surprised to see that they were actually following the reuse movement. It shows we’re having an influence with the ZWLL program, we’re shaking up the way things are done.

What are you the most proud of?

What I’m proudest of is that we have 7 diverse pilots and ventures in Indonesia fully operating in only 3 years! It’s amazing that we managed to design reuse and refill solutions that are not only convenient but also accessible to everyone.

What’s your favorite memory?

What comes first to my mind is my trip across Bali with Jesse, Enviu’s former country director of South-East Asia, on the back of his motorbike in Bali. We were criss-crossing the island on a mission to understand the hotel market in Bali, and to get feedback on our business concept for Econosia. By meeting hotel managers from 1 to 5 Star hotels, tour organizers and basically any potential client we could talk to, we realized that there was a true potential market for our solution. We received very positive feedback on our concept and by now Econesia has saved more than 3 million plastic water bottles.

What would you say to an organization that’s thinking of starting a venture building program like the Zero Waste Living Lab?

I would say be open. Don’t be afraid to team up with partners so that you can share your learnings and inspire each other. It’s important and valuable to create an ecosystem, since the ventures you will design will rely on partners, experts and funding. And above all, try to stay optimistic along the way!

Is there a specific “fuck-up” moment you would dare to share?

Well, a year and a half into the program, we ideated WashBy, a circular venture targeting the laundry industry in Jakarta. What happened is that we overestimated our influence. We learned the hard way that businesses in the local laundry industry, run by micro-entrepreneurs, are mostly based on relationships and loyalty. This made it really hard for us, as newbies, to come in and acquire customers. After a full 6 months of piloting and pivoting, we decided to not go through with it. Nonetheless, this experience gave us valuable insights into the product design for refill bulk packaging and the challenges that micro entrepreneurs face in running their day to day operations!

What do you hope the next 3 years of the ZWLL program will look like?

What I would love to see in the coming years is that all our existing ventures and their impact grow, in Indonesia and beyond. I hope we will foster further collaborations so that we can grow our impact in Indonesia and tackle further problematic waste streams by ideating and building new solutions. I also hope for the program to go beyond Indonesia and to take our learnings to other South-East Asian countries and maybe even to Africa.

Join the zero waste movement now!

The Zero Waste Living Lab has already had many adventures, but this is only the beginning. We are excited for what’s to come and we will continue to share our lessons. Make sure to check out our venture and pilot portfolio as well as our monthly news updates to follow our journey! 

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