The First eco-responsible food and non-food drive Bulk and Zero Waste of the Pyrénées-Orientales
After working as a sales assistant in the food industry (organic and conventional), Camille Margotton realized the many aberrations of this environment. She was shocked by the practices of some large companies, and wanted to launch her own eco-responsible sales activity in accordance with her ecological values.
She therefore wished to open her own store, and initially followed the trail of the “Day by day” bulk grocery franchise, but she would have had to pay 50k€ for the franchise, work with a central purchasing office and set up store in the center of Perpignan. Instead, she preferred a cross-cutting concept: local commerce, “on a human scale”, far from the large commercial areas of Perpignan, which sells organic products, supplied by local producers, sold in bulk, and available for online ordering.
The choice of the Drive was made because it represented a lower investment (much less installations are needed compared to a store), it was less restrictive and more hygienic (Camille uses her own pots that she recovers and then washes in her professional washer). She decided to locate her Drive in Cabestany – in the Perpignan agglomeration – because she is aware that the city center is not dynamic enough and that Perpignanese people are used to go shopping by car in the big shopping centers on the outskirts. She therefore wished to offer them a more sustainable alternative to the traditional large supermarkets.
With 40k€ in subsidies, Camille was able to buy in equity: initial stock (14k€), develop her website (10k€), crockery (2k€), a fridge (2500€), a washer (1000€), shelves (500€), safety equipment (400€), and drive rentals (2000€/month). To fit out her drive, Camille has favored reuse, for example by recovering pallets to make her counter or by recovering shelves to be destroyed for the storage of her pots. In addition, her front was generously made by her artist father.
Currently, internet sales represent only 50% of the turnover, the other half being direct sales, because his customers like to come to the Drive to see the products and choose. Camille has therefore recently renamed the LocaloDrive’s title: “grocery and drive”, and plans to open a more formalized grocery store in September 2020 with the move to a new location.
The localodrive, the drive of Camille Margotton
According to ADEME, responsible consumption must lead the buyer, whether he is an economic actor (private or public) or a citizen-consumer, to make his choice by taking into account the environmental impacts at all stages of the product’s life cycle (goods or services) . In France, the demand for zero waste is growing. Proof of this is: the association Réseau vrac (which deals with bulk sales for professionals) states that “the economic weight of bulk has been multiplied by 12 in 6 years”.
It is in this approach that Localodrive positions itself by offering local, organic, zero waste and bulk products. Camille selects responsible suppliers and, if necessary, packs the bulk products herself in reusable glass jars that she sells on consignment. A purchase at Localodrive is therefore a responsible purchase, made by a customer generally concerned about the environment and his health (because bulk is still less convenient than traditional packaging). Camille is also involved in the association
It is a drive where you can find “naked” food without plastic wrapping. The goal is to bring its empty container home and fill it with the help of dispensers or pouring trays. This allows us to considerably reduce our waste for the planet and to pay only for what we consume (without the packaging). Not only do we pollute less but it is also a more economical way of consumption. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.
The LocaloDrive offers a wide range of food and household products. A very large majority of them are organic (~90%), local (100% French, mostly from the Occitan region) and zero waste (~90%).
An example of a low-cost local bulk product that can be purchased on the Localodrive
Camille has recently (May 2020) offered fruits and vegetables from permaculture, following a request to a nearby operator to grow permaculture for the LocaloDrive.
Eventually, Camille is gradually increasing its number of references in order to offer a diversified range of products, and in particular wishes to develop its offer in zero-waste beauty products.
A French person produces on average 5 tons of waste per year , most of which is buried or at best incinerated. A restrictive but effective solution to limit this problem is to move towards “zero waste” and to ban all types of non-reusable packaging. Camille is committed in this approach to offer zero waste products, but also organic and local, in order to reduce the carbon footprint of its products: it therefore only works with French suppliers, and regional (Pyrénées Orientales and Aude) as far as possible.
The return to deposit limits the impact of production and waste treatment, but the environmental cost of washing glass containers is not negligible. However, despite increased water consumption, reuse is more beneficial than recycling  and the LocaloDrive approach is quite commendable in this respect. In addition, we have also noticed that a loss of packaging is inevitably made upstream at the suppliers’ level: indeed, Camille mainly receives her products in paper bags (80%) according to her request, but some of her suppliers continue to deliver her in big plastic bags. In addition, the transport pallets are inevitably filmed. However, despite these residual plastics, the ecological benefit of bulk is undeniable. However, Camille must also be particularly vigilant from a health point of view, as she does not have the advantages of plastic that protects against insects and other contamination.
Moreover, we have noticed that Camille pays attention to even the smallest details to limit her carbon footprint as much as possible: for example, she only lights neon lights in her premises very little and prefers natural light, in order to reduce her energy footprint.
One would think that the products of this young initiative – surfing on a new trend – could have been very expensive, but we were surprised because the prices are relatively affordable.
This makes the drive a more economical way to consume the product, because you don’t pay for the price of the packaging. It tries to have reasonable prices, with an approach accessible to everyone.
In addition to offering a Drive service, Camille is relatively active on social networks so that Localodrive becomes a real place to live. She shares tips on zero waste lifestyle, and regularly organizes animations at her drive with meetings between producers and the general public. The aim is therefore to offer an alternative lifestyle to the people of Perpignan, while creating a link based on responsible consumption.
For example, as soon as possible, it intends to organize visits to the gardens of its market garden producer, so that its customers are aware of permaculture.
How does it work to set up a zero waste Drive in France?
As many success stories attest, the zero-waste drive is booming in France. Between last year and the first months of 2020, there has been a growing increase in the opening of zero waste stores. In the month of February alone, there were no less than 5 zero waste drive openings in France . Camille believes that every city could have a zero-waste drive, which is why she wanted to set one up in her hometown, Perpignan.
What about LocaloDrive?
With an average of 15 customers per day, buying an average basket of 30€, LocaloDrive generates an average turnover of 100,000€. But since Camille limits her margins on her products and has to pay a substantial rent (2000€ rent for 200m²), she still doesn’t get paid. She would like to have more customers, but is aware that in Perpignan it will take more time. She is nevertheless delighted that her clientele is gradually growing, thanks to word of mouth, and several articles including a video from France 3.
An evolution of the Drive to a grocery format
Beyond diversifying its number of references and suppliers, Camille plans to move quickly to a less expensive location that would allow her to make more investments such as bulk silos to develop the grocery format in her premises. In addition, she has many original ideas. For example, she would like to set up collection points in the city by delivering to works councils, partner with a zero-waste crèche, or offer lunch boxes from a vegan restaurant owner who plans to set up store in Perpignan in the near future.
However, despite these initiatives and a loyal customer base, risks remain for Localodrive. In particular, several of Localodrive’s competitors are in the process of establishing themselves in the region, such as a zero waste boutique in the city center or the project to open a zero waste cooperative grocery store O’Vrac.
Camille is a warm young woman, who tries to create beyond her drive a real community around responsible consumption in Perpignan. We were impressed by her business ethics; especially in the way she works with her suppliers to guarantee 100% zero waste products produced in a sustainable and local way.
We are aware that the choice to set up in Perpignan was not an easy one for Camille because it is not a very dynamic city in this sector, but she is therefore positioned as an avant-garde, which gives her a lot of credit.
Copyright CirculAgronomie 2020