In today’s interview we get to know the startup Giunko. We interview its Communication and International Relations Officer, Paolo Fornari.
What problem does your start-up address and what solution does it propose?
The issue we want to tackle is how to sort waste correctly in accordance with local rules for waste separation, which in Italy may vary from town to town. From January 1st, 2023, it is compulsory for companies that sell products on the Italian market to give the consumers information on how to dispose of the products’ packaging.
We have an innovative digital solution: the Digital Environmental Label (EAD), which can be viewed just by scanning a QR code on the packaging or the product’s barcode with Junker, (app for waste sorting developed by Giunko). So, the client is immediately compliant with the new law and has no risk of getting fined. The given information is geolocated, which means that it adapts to the local rules for waste separation, according to the place the consumer lives in. EAD has several advantages in comparison with a traditional label: the information is always correct and updated, thanks to our platform that is constantly monitored; if the product’s packaging gets changed, there is no need to restructure the label, because the indications are updated online.
How and why did you start this entrepreneurial adventure? Any advice from your experience that you would like to pass on to future entrepreneurs?
EAD is a new product that originates from Junker, an app for waste sorting developed by Giunko back in 2015. The innovative element of Junker was that the user can identify every product just by scanning its barcode, and so he/she gets geolocated indications on how to dispose of it correctly, no matter the place where he/she lives.
It all started because the company’s founders noticed that it was hard to find disposal information for a specific product’s packaging that was precise and correct – in fact, it was often the case that the person got confused on the web by different indications and finally gave up on sorting correctly. So, why not solve this issue with technology, in a time dominated by smartphones and mobile apps?
A first advice from our side: don’t give up on your project if you don’t see huge returns in the beginning – a solid, sustainable business growth, even if it takes more time, can be better for the life of your company. Second, try to solve a real problem with your business idea, something that touches people’s life. Not by chance, our idea came from a problem encountered by our founders in their daily routine!
How do you expect the sector to evolve? And what expectations do you have for your start-up?
Our solutions combine two of the “hottest” business areas of our time: circular economy and digital transformation. In particular, the specific area of environmental labeling is highly promising: Italy is the first EU country to translate into the national legislation the EU directive on environmental labeling, while other EU countries (Spain, for instance) are already working on a similar legislation. Our digital label is already available in 11 languages and some of our clients are foreign companies importing products in Italy: therefore, EAD is ready to expand in other EU countries.
Such a digital label can contain all sorts of information, not only disposal indications: an example is the collaboration between Junker app and U-Label that gave birth to a Digital Environmental Label that includes nutritional information as well. It’s recent news that the European Union is thinking about standardizing the environmental label among all Member States: if so, our solution EAD, backed up by a unique database of packaging materials with more than 1.8 million classified products and a growing number of clients from several sectors (cosmetics, wine and spirits, tobacco, food), could be at the forefront in the EU landscape.
Any new developments in the near future that you would like to share with the rest of the start-ups?
EAD is constantly evolving, since the legislation about environmental labeling is quite recent and companies are trying to comply with it in many ways, therefore our solution is adapting as well to meet companies’ new needs.
Concerning Junker app, we work not only on recycling and waste sorting, but also on another relevant pillar of the circular economy, which prevents in the first place to produce waste: reuse.
That is why we created the Reuse Board, a virtual showcase for a specific area in which users can post objects they don’t use anymore that are still in good conditions. In this way, they can give these objects a second chance and save them from going into landfill. We want to be a complete tool for the circular economy, standardizing and harmonizing disposal information for all actors of the waste management sector: municipalities, waste disposal companies, producers, and citizens.
The most recent developments are the Image Recognition, a beta feature to identify a product just by taking a picture – the app tries to identify it and give the consumer correct disposal indications or, if desired, instrutions to make compost, with the Composting Register that indicates which residue is appropriate and which is not, and the Composting Guide to encourage a good circular practice such as home composting.
In what areas would you like to collaborate with other start-ups, companies or other organisations?
The waste sector has been our main area of business for years. We are quite strong in Italy, serving 1800 municipalities with more than 2.6 million downloads of the app. However, we would love to go beyond our borders and find municipalities, local organizations and/or waste disposal companies interested in trying out our digital solutions, as well as companies interested in adopting our Digital Environmental Label for their products.
In addition, being a dynamic company selling digital services, we would love to collaborate with other digital companies, whose services could be combined with ours to create new tools that improve people’s daily life and encourage them to make their lifestyle more sustainable and environmental-friendly. For instance, integration of our environmental information within systems that give other types of details about the products (nutritional information, traceability, LCA) would be an option.
Giunko’s description: Link