Connecting Waterpeople

In conversation with Martin Renck: Wayout's vision for a sustainable water future

  • In conversation with Martin Renck: Wayout's vision for sustainable water future

Around 85,000 people attended COP28 at the beginning of December to share their views, ideas and latest solutions to tackle climate change. One of these was Martin Renck, Chief Strategy Officer, founder and partner at Wayout.

Wayout is a Swedish sustainable technology company that offers an all-encompassing, solar-powered brewing system that produces up to 20,000 liters of mineral water every day – enough to provide 10,000 persons with their daily drinking water – while at the same time preventing up to 13 million plastic bottles and 1,400 tons of CO₂ from entering the ecosystem yearly. Wayout aims to eventually bring clean water to the majority of the planet’s population that otherwise does not have access.

Having launched the “Plastic Free Drinking Water” campaign during the UN Climate Summit, we spoke to Renck to discuss his thoughts about COP28, the company’s latest campaign and responding to climate change.   

Can you tell us briefly about your career path and your current role at Wayout?

My background is in branding and advertising, where I've founded a couple of agencies and led creative teams to handle clients mainly within the film, fashion and music industries. When I founded Wayout, my role was Creative Director with the main responsibility to create value for the stakeholders through innovation, function, design and storytelling. This evolved into Chief Strategy Officer, where I was in charge of the product and brand strategy. Currently, I'm one of the main shareholders with a less operational role, more focused on storytelling.

Why do you think it is important for Wayout, specializing in sustainable and future-proof drinking water solutions, to have been present at COP28?

The COPs are forums where various industry players can take an active part in shaping the future where the transition to sustainable production and consumption is at the center of the creative processes. For Wayout, this is where we both can be inspired and also tell our story and our purpose. The past two COPs have taken place in a region where water is a natural key topic. We of course see the topic itself as highly relevant for humanity. It is also relevant for our intentions as a company to play an active role in securing this resource for humanity going forward.

Wayout promotes a plastic-free future. Do you think the linkages between plastic pollution and climate change were discussed enough at COP28?

Not to my knowledge. Of course, most of the discussions are kept within the parties having the discussions, but I didn't see this being brought out as one of the central topics. Of course, plastic is a derivative of the fossil industries, and as such it was likely downplayed at this particular COP.

Can you tell us a bit more about the “Plastic Free Drinking Water” campaign Wayout launched during COP28?

The campaign we launched was an idea created by our close collaborator and co-creative Gahn Fishing, where the intent was to make the switch from the usual convenient single-use plastic lifestyle and over to a more sustainable one. By demonstrating this together with the visitors and the general public, we hope to have shown that it really is just a matter of a minor adjustment – that in turn can have a big impact; both on awareness and then also on behavior, and ultimately on our effects on our environment.

What measures and commitments would you have liked to see emerge from COP28 in relation to tackling plastic pollution and mitigating climate change? How could these contribute to a more sustainable future? 

The end of fossil fuel and the use of petrochemicals on a wide scale, carbon taxation to a degree where it makes a significant difference, and a total ban on single use plastic.

What obstacles does the drinking water sector face in its efforts to reduce plastic usage, and how can these barriers be addressed to promote a more sustainable future for water resources?

The obstacles are probably mainly behavioural. We are convenient, lazy beings, and plastic is convenient and lazy. But, we're also very accepting of new things, as long as they don't take away our privileges or require any extra effort. As innovators, this is where we must fit in and contribute.

What would you highlight from COP28?

The fact that the whole scope is expropriated by the fossil industry. It held out for 25-something rounds but was eventually devoured by the powers deciding things. Our hope is now with the young generation, and some other format for making actual change.

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