Service Design
Circular Economy
Reverse Logistics
Business Design



Garcon Wines aims to make the wine industry more sustainable through innovating wine packaging. They invented a planet-friendly bottle that is made from recycled PET. Due to its shape and material it can be produced, packed, and transported much more efficiently than ordinary wine bottles.

However, these wine bottles need to be coloured so the company stays respectful of the wine industry’s heritage and they also act as a moderate UV barrier preventing sun damage to the liquid. The issue is that coloured PET bottles do not get recycled properly, they get mixed with other types of plastic and used to make end life products such as strapping.

From Linear to Circular: Ellen MacArthur Foundation

Our team is addressing this issue by presenting different opportunities for utilising a reuse model in the wine packaging industry. We are looking at the distinct elements of such a model and its usability in the case of Garcon Wines. Furthermore, the underlying business model and risks of implementation are also considered in our report.

A reuse model fits with the concept of moving toward a circular economy. In a circular economy, products are designed to be kept in use, and waste is designed out. In a reuse model, the life cycle of material is extended, thus keeping the material in use for longer.


Return process

For the letterbox-sized boxes: Wine bottles are sent out as usual in letterbox-sized boxes; within the box is a prepaid Royal Mail return postage label. Once the wine has been consumed it can be placed back into the letterbox box with the return label applied. Customers would then have to place the box into a Royal Mail letterbox for return to Garcon Wines.

For larger cases: similar process although not as accessible for customers. The case would contain a prepaid returns postage label. However, customers would need to arrange for Royal Mail parcel collection or return via a Royal Mail office. Depending on the business relationship; if a customer is regularly ordering cases, empty bottles can be returned when a new case is delivered. Model expansion potential: bottle return bins in stores or restaurants.

Refill process

Once bottles are returned to Garcon Wines they will be washed, sterilised, and refilled. For hygiene purposes, the old top from the bottle would be recycled and a new seal top placed on the refilled bottle.

While PET bottles can be refilled they still have a limited refill cycle. Therefore, a bottle tracking system would be required to ensure bottles are taken out of circulation when the refill limit is reached. This could take the form of barcodes within the bottle design or a more sophisticated blockchain system. Increased quality control checks would be needed to ensure refilled bottles have the same quality standard as new recycled PET bottles. The washing processes would need to be perfected to ensure residual wine and old labeling is removed effectively to keep bottles hygienic. At the same time, the washing process cannot use washing mediums or temperatures that would degrade the PET plastic. Water consumption, waste water disposal and the environmental impacts of the washing medium used should also be considered.

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Business Model Canvas 

Introducing an after-use service for used bottles can result in benefits such as increased B2B due to the extra service provided, as well as the improved green image guaranteed by the service for the adopting business. It can also allow exploring a new B2C model via brick and mortar stores located in strategic areas where the product would have an advantage over traditionally packed wines, such as in transit stations and airports. 

Retrieving bottles will provide a new and valuable service to existing B2B customers that can either be 1) offered in return for an extra fee (if proven to be of high demand by B2B customers) or 2) offered with an incentive (if proven to be more valuable in terms of cost-saving for Garcon). The retrieved bottles can be cleaned, refilled, and relabeled in-house to sell Garcon branded wine to B2C customers or regular B2B customers. 


To summarise, the recommendation from this report is to incorporate reuse and refill system into the existing Garcon Wines business model as a way to shift from linear to circular. This model would be integrated into the current business structure initially by offering free returns to customers through the addition of a returns label to existing packaging. Bottles returned to Garcon wines can then be washed,

sterilised, and refilled with wine to be redistributed.Building a return and refill system into the existing model will require additional capability in terms of a bottle washing process, a bottle tracking method to ensure PET bottles are removed from the reuse and refill cycle once maximum cycles are reached and the creation of a business relationship with a postage company, for example:

The Royal Mail in the UK or a private parcel distributor. Reusable packaging can be seen as a product-service system, in which instead of simply selling a product, a service is provided to the customer. After reuse reaches its limit, a PET recycling method that allows full recovery of coloured PET has been identified and a final step for closing the loop on Garson Wine bottles.

Project team for Ellen MacArthur Foundation:

Rebecca Furlong, Jozsef Marias, Rina Strydom, Abdulla Moustafa