Our special Green Interview session today is with Kasia, the director and founding partner of Glassia, a company that is transforming the linear water bottling value chain into closed-loop systems through an integrated, local and decentralised model of glass bottling facilities.
Trâm Anh: First of all, I would like to say a big fat thank to you and everyone at Glassia for your great work so far in promoting a circular economy and reducing plastic waste in Vietnam. For the first question, could you share with us the story behind the foundation of Glassia?
Kasia: Vietnam has been listed as one of the top five contributors to plastic waste entering the ocean. A third of the waste in Vietnam comes from urban areas and most of the plastic waste is generated by extensive use of PET bottles and single-use plastic. With a recycling rate of less than 15% in Vietnam, most of these bottles are ending up in our landfills, rivers and oceans. Glassia was born to transform the linear water bottling value chain into closed-loop systems through an integrated, local and decentralized model of glass bottling facilities. Glassia aims to be a pioneering social business offering glass bottled water to enable businesses to transition from single-use to reuse models.
Our stories are built on our desire to develop a life in harmony with nature. If you take a closer look at our Glassia bottle, you will notice that the traditional symbols of the Dong Son drum have been adapted to tell a story of life above and below the sea. We want to blend the bronze drum image in the old age with the symbols representing today's marine life to convey the message of a more balanced, sustainable life with nature.
Trâm Anh: How about the concept of Glassia? What is the biggest driver for change in Glassia?
Kasia: Glassia transforms the linear water bottling value chain into a circular system of “re-collection – sterilization – refill” through an integrated, local, and decentralized model of glass bottling facilities. We ensure to create the highest quality bottled water while minimizing our carbon footprint. Our state-of-the-art facility is certified and fully transparent offering trust to consumers. The final product is brought to nearby customers with care and with a consolidated delivery schedule to ensure the lowest CO2 emissions possible. We pick up empty bottles and replace them with new ones to ensure full circularity. We focus on upstream solutions which means no waste at all processes. By offering plastic-alternative products to the market at competitive prices, we aim to change the consumers' behavior towards more sustainable practices that ultimately benefit everyone and our planet. We also want to replace the consumption of 10 million of plastic bottles and single-use plastic by 2025.
Trâm Anh: How many business partners have you worked with? What is the impact so far of Glassia both socially and environmentally?
Kasia: We have worked with more than 30 business partners (mostly in the food and beverage and hospitality sectors) and have served over 20 repeat customers since starting operations in 2021. Partnerships and financing grants also assist us in upscaling our potential in Vietnam through a social franchising model.
In a very short period, Glassia has been increasing our visibility across the country and positively impacting the environment. Our Danang facility has the capacity to fill 1 million bottles annually offsetting 200 tons of carbon emission/per factory each year compared to PET bottles. To date, we have refilled 35.000 bottles and we aim to reach full capacity with the reopening of Vietnam.
We don’t just sell purified water, we bring our consumers towards sustainable, closed-loop consumption. We offer a solution that eliminates plastic waste at the source, and with our modern and educational branding, Glassia triggers consumers to consider circularity and its impact on the environment. We hope that by taking small actions, we can drive the most important change towards sustainable consumption of bottled drinking water in every city in Vietnam.
Trâm Anh: What is the biggest challenge that the team and Glassia face professionally?
Kasia: One of our biggest challenges in the early stages of our establishment is that Vietnamese consumers are still unfamiliar with the concepts of circular economy and sustainable consumption. Water plastic bottles are convenient to carry and may be affordable for them. Changing this habit seems to be hard, but it does not mean impossible. We have made a strategic plan to encourage customers to pursue a plastic-free life. We also offer a full-logistic delivery and pickup services for businesses who want to use Glassia. To encourage businesses to involve in a fully circular system, we focus on quality and commit to a discount policy when returning water bottles.
Trâm Anh: Do you believe that Glassia has the capability to catalyse the scale of change needed to rise to the long-term sustainability challenges?
Kasia: We strongly believe that Glassia will be a model which contributes to creating momentum for change and overcoming the long-term sustainability challenges. We are honored and proud to have partners and organizations that are always ready to change and involve with zero plastic waste movement. We are not alone on this journey. Consumers are gradually becoming aware of the harmful effects of plastic waste to water and tend to consume more environmentally friendly products. This encourages us to continue to support community orientation. Currently, we are planning to expand our factory to Ho Chi Minh City to enter the southern market in Viet Nam. We also aim to duplicate this model in other cities of Vietnam and beyond.
Trâm Anh: What is your vision of sustainability in business in Vietnam? What support or help do you expect to receive from the government for businesses to accelerate the achievement of SDG 17 in Vietnam?
Kasia: Our social enterprise’s vision is to be a pioneering model in creating sustainable bottled drinking water. We are striving to push the boundaries of business towards the circular economy models. We encourage and support all individuals and organizations to engage in this revolutionary transformation.
To accelerate the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals, we call for the support from authorities, businesses and research institutes so that we can together drive suitable and sustainable business creation and scale upstream solutions. We're also looking for collaborative financing, social franchising, and licensing agreements that are market-driven and localized. We hope that the government can enact incentives and motivational policies to encourage social enterprises to carry out our mission which is aligned with the UN. We truly believe that we could pursue and achieve the “Goal 14: Life below water” to conserve and protect the sustainability of our ocean from the severe threat of plastic pollution by 2030.
If you are interested in working with Glassia, check their contact below!
Office: 26 Ngo Huy Dien, Cam Le, Da Nang, +84 0236 3912 686
Factory: Block 211-212, 2nd Floor, Indochina Mall, 74 Bach Dang, Hai Chau, Da Nang
Businesses like Glassia are truly the heroes that Vietnam needs to promote a more sustainable future! If you want to make a real impact on the sustainability scene in Vietnam, let's join our BYO programme or volunteer with us!