AUARA, Spanish Mineral Water to Change the World
AUARA has broken the molds in the Spanish agri-food sector. It was created to be 100% committed to 100% sustainability, and in only three years it has positioned itself in such a way so as to combine product quality with a dedication to ethical business. The company sells mineral water that comes from a spring in León (Castile-León) — quality assured. And its ethical commitment? This is where AUARA has managed to turn itself into a true case study.
spends the entirety of its dividends on making the scarce resource that is drinking water available to communities that are lacking in it. Since its launch in September of 2016, the company has implemented a total of 37 projects in extremely poor communities located in 15 countries in Africa, Asia and Central America. Of these, 32 have been aimed at guaranteeing these communities’ access to drinking water, while the remaining five are dedicated to providing access to sanitation systems, contributing to improving the salubriousness of these areas and reducing mortality rates associated with consuming contaminated water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene.
In 2018 alone, this socially-minded company recycled close to 95,000 kilograms of plastic (a 61.7% increase from 2017), meaning it has reused the equivalent of nearly four million plastic bottles to make the ones that are used to sell its mineral water. Since its founding, and thanks to sales of AUARA water, more than 138 tons of plastic have been recycled, translating to savings of more than 226,000 liters of petroleum.
These numbers speak for themselves as to AUARA’s commitment, but in order to delve even deeper into this company’s story, we spoke to its CEO and founder Antonio Espinosa de los Monteros, who offered additional insight into its strategy in the interview below.
What does AUARA understand as sustainability in an industry where a lot of brands and companies are using this as a buzz word, without having any real projects associated with it?
We understand it as our mission and something that forms part of our very essence — and always with a view to the long-term. We are convinced that, at this day and age, things that are lacking in honesty and coherence might have a short-term impact, but they do not generate any substance, and in the end they lead to mistrust. We prefer to do what we believe in, even if it doesn't have any immediate returns, because we believe that doing the right thing will come back in your favor, sooner or later.
When you started evaluating the possibility of creating AUARA, a company that destines all of its dividends to projects geared towards bringing drinking water to communities in need, how many times did you hear comments like, “Are you sure about this?” or “You’re not going to make it”?
A lot, mostly at the beginning. But it’s normal. I think that when you take on a project that’s different from what’s out there, and that doesn’t respond to the laws of the market, but rather to a specific conviction, that’s probably the normal reaction. The bad thing is when you’re unable to change this perception over time.
What is the importance of the use of the bottle (as packaging) in AUARA’s philosophy? What are the bottles made of?
Packaging is a fundamental element for a brand that sells consumer goods. It’s the part of your value proposition that customers can see and touch, and it’s the main element that has an impact on the environment. We were very clear on this, and so we decided to look for the most sustainable option possible. After a lot of research and many months of work, in September of 2016 we produced the very first bottles in Europe made from 100% recycled plastic. Thus we are not producing any new plastic, rather recycling existing plastic so that it does not become garbage and turn up where we don’t want it. It’s pure cyclical economy.
How does AUARA carry out the selection and follow-up of the projects that it supports with its dividends?
The main thing is the selection and validation of the partners we work with. We seek out organizations with expertise in water projects, who are intimately familiar with the communities, that have the intention of being permanent in the long-term, and that are transparent and professional. The validation process is very exhaustive, but it guarantees that we work with organizations that share our views on the projects. And once our partners have been selected, we work on each project individually in line with its execution contract, which includes the budget, execution calendar, report calendar, impact measurement, five-year follow-up, etc. The important thing isn’t digging a well; it’s for the executed project to form part of the community and to function indefinitely.
Text: Rodrigo García / @ICEX
Translation: Adrienne Smith / @ICEX