Replacing single-use water containers with glass in the Basque Country

Glass bottle
Type of organisation or company
Freiburg im Breisgau
Language for original content
Key Area
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Start/End date

Mutualia is a social services and medical care provider in the Basque Country, Spain. It used to provide drinking water at all its facilities by means of water fountains which dispensed water from large plastic bottles (11 litres) into single-use plastic cups. In addition, patients received bottled water with their meals and Mutualia provided bottled water during meetings. This involved spending a considerable amount of money on mineral water and generating a considerable amount of plastic waste: approximately 147 000 glasses, 4000 large cooler bottles for the fountains, and 7000 small water bottles were used and thrown out each year.

In order to reduce plastic waste and spending on bottled water, Mutualia decided to install water fountains connected to the public water network and so use tap water instead of buying bottled water. In January 2019, Mutualia set up 40 new water fountains in its 17 service centres, provided its staff and rooms with new glass bottles, and purchased recyclable paper cups.

Main activity field
Main results
  • The market consultation helped to raise awareness among suppliers that there is a demand for plastic-free water solutions.
  • Mutualia’s choice to procure paper cups separately was a signal to the market that combined, plastic-free solutions are in demand.
  • An estimated 147 000 plastic cups, 4000 big plastic water cooler bottles and 7000 small plastic bottles will be saved annually through the use of reusable bottles and cups.
  • As a result of the procurement, Mutualia saves an estimated EUR 17 000 annually on water for its patients, employees and visitors.
  • The tender explored other areas where reductions could be achieved, resulting in the establishment of a working group that aims to reduce plastic and plastic waste throughout Mutualia’s operations.