Mission: Zero Waste

Bulgarian team suggests models for circular economy and has a technology for biodegradable containers

Mission: Zero Waste

Blazhka and Denimir believe that zero-waste business is a Mission Possible

Снимка: EconomyMagazine/Krassimir Svrakov

Автор: Tatyana Yavasheva

Are we going to put an end to the wasteful use of plastic that is already too harmful to nature, as well as to humans and animals? Could we replace plastic containers with rapidly degradable analogues? Could crop residues be part of the solution? Is it possible to change our habits so that we do not generate waste?

A solution can be found as long as we are ready for the big change. The Zero Waste Association knows how...

A Good Start

Denimir Dimitrov and Blazhka Dimitrova met during an entrepreneurship program in Sofia. The intersection of their interests turned out to be their mutual conviction that the harms of plastic are far greater than the benefits. A step towards change was the establishment of the Zero Waste non-governmental organization that teaches people and businesses how to generate less waste, how to reduce the use of plastic and minimize unnecessary stuff in their everyday lives. Together with some friends they created a technology for the production of biodegradable containers made of malt – the by-product of beer. Bulgarian breweries discard about 240 tons every day. They realised that the residue was a valuable resource, suitable for the circular economy. This is how they registered the Zero Wave company. Anton Madzharov is the technologist. Stefan Ivanov is responsible for sales and the strategy. In the summer of 2019, Zero Wave received an award of BGN 20,000 at the end of the Rinker Youth Challenge partnership program, which encourages entrepreneurship among young people in Bulgaria. With the money, they bought a machine for making the samples for the first corporate clients and validating the product. Then, it was time to invest in a machine for mass production. Their potential clients are fast food restaurants, large retail chains and catering companies, airlines, as well as anyone who wants to optimise waste not only in words.

The Path to the Point of Refusal

Blazhka Dimitrova was introduced to the topic as if by chance: She was hit by a cardboard box in a windy weather. She then noticed the whirlwinds of waste on the streets. Later, she noticed that she threw a bag with rubbish every day. So, she got to the question of how not to throw any garbage. She found the answer on the Internet: Zero Waste. She liked this philosophy very much and started making her first steps towards reducing garbage. This is how she got to the transformation of her business – Blagichka – a Kitchen with a Cause, which four years ago, started by providing catering services, and later added fast food to its activity. They generated a lot of waste and at the beginning of 2018, Blazka took the cause of transitioning to a waste-free technology. After a year and a half of tremendous efforts, she managed to achieve this goal. That is why the restaurant that now has a new mission was renamed to Blagichka – Zero Waste. The restaurant is managed entirely by disadvantaged young people who have grown up in homes for children deprived of parental care, and is profitable.

Denimir Dimitrov has lived in Paris, but when he returned to Bulgaria three years ago, he noticed the negligence in regards to plastic waste. He saw this as a cause to work for.

No Trash

Blagichka and Denimir recommend: Give up on disposable containers and packaging. Reduce the quantity of all things you need. Use again what can be reused. Focus entirely on reusable containers. Recycle, but only as a final step after taking the ones mentioned above. Compost biodegradable waste. Use the resulting soil for the plants you grow. This model could become your way of life, too. 

The First Step towards Change

“We are not a competitor to the manufacturers of plastic containers, as there is no product that can outperform them when it comes to price. That is why plastic has settled so permanently in people’s lives for the last 40 years. In the next 3-4 years, we want to position ourselves as a premium product and find companies that can become rocket carriers of this eco-alternative,” Denimir says. The Zero Wave company and the Zero Waste non-governmental organization have the same goal – finding the harmony between man and nature. “If we change people’s attitudes this will also impact the businesses and the environment. We are aware that we will not be able to eliminate plastic in the near future. But if we don’t take the first step, then – the next one, the problem will continue growing. EU has taken measures to reduce disposable plastic products. Affected producers will be forced to look for eco-alternatives, and we have the know-how,” Denimir Dimitrov assures. The team of Zero Wave is looking for funding to start the mass production of the biodegradable containers. There are three factors for reaching the goal: Time, finances and human capital. The ambitious team doesn’t stop thinking about how to overcome the hindrances on its way. They look for opportunities both here and around the world.

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