Jean Bouteille … oui mais pas n’importe comment

Aujourd’hui, alors qu’il est possible d’acheter beaucoup de denrées alimentaires en vrac, les liquides sont bien souvent tenus à l’écart de cette pratique. Qui n’a jamais été contraint d’acheter une bouteille de 75 cl de vinaigre alors qu’il n’en utilise que 25 cl par an ? Qui n’a jamais laisser un fond d’huile dans une bouteille pour en acheter une autre pour la remplacer ?




  • Who? Gérard Bellet, 29, commercial background
  • What? Jean Bouteille, a pun in French meaning “I’m bottling”
  • Where? Villeneuve d’ Ascq, Nord region, France
  • When? Created in November 2013
  • How? Liquid bulk sale based on 3 keywords: bulk, refundable bottles and washing
  • Why? Reduce or prevent waste production

Our questions to Jean Bouteille

  1. Describe sustainable development in a few words? Common sense!
  2. How do you think you contribute to sustainable development? By offering a simple way of consumption that doesn’t generate waste, or just a little.
  3. What project would you like to see emerge in your community/local area? City worm composters
  4. A topic you would like us to talk about? An initiative that you want us to focus on? How is « Zero Waste » concept applied in Italy. It would be interesting to dig it and verify the implementation on the field.
  5. A challenge for us? Minimize your consumption of bottled water as much as possible and record how many bottles you’ll purchase during your trip.

We tell you more about Jean Bouteille…

Today, even if it’s possible to buy a lot of bulk food, liquids are often kept out of this practice. Who has never been forced to buy a 75 cl bottle of vinegar when he/she uses only 25 cl a year?


“Just buy what you need”

Based on this observation, Gérard Bellet developed Jean Bouteille. A solution that is completely in line with today’s trends, based on circular economy sprinkled and frugal innovation capability concept. At age 29, with a strong business education and international work experience, Gérard has set up a project combining its environmental beliefs, common sense dear to his heart and refusing disposables packaging. He had the idea to update the concept of refundable bottles by associating it with a technological solution easy to use and attractive, without any ties for clients.


From bottling, to the washer through containers, Jean Bouteille is a complete sale solution. Gerard sets up Jean Bouteille stand and leaves to the owner of the shop the choice of liquids sold in bulk while maintaining some control over the goods offered. Indeed, he is convinced that it is possible to consume quality products at an affordable price while limiting theirs impact on the environment. That’s why he got in touch with an organic grocery store to launch Jean Bouteille pilot project. Thierry Decoster has been packed away by the idea and supported Gérard by welcoming his project in his store call La Ferme des saveurs (meaning The Farm of Tastes), located in Villeneuve d’Ascq, in the Lille area (Nord region, France).

An economical and ecological system

Between bulk cereals and tea, Jean Bouteille stand seduced more and more customers every day. Often intrigued, they tame the bottling quickly. Simple and fun to use, the system is based on Jean Bouteille 3 keywords: bulk – refundable bottles – washing.

Bulk sale

Bulk sale is possible thanks to a self-service filling system. This electronic and mechanical system was developed specifically for Jean Bouteille. It allows filling adjustment to the container selected (25, 50 or 75 cl). After positioning the bottle, simply press the right button to start filling the bottle.

Bulk principle is fully respected: whatever the quantity purchased, the price per liter remains the same.


Refundable bottles

Remember when you help your parents or grandparents taking bottles back to the store in exchange for a few coins. While refundable bottles concept has disappeared in the late 80s in France, Gerard updated it! Jean Bouteille version is based on a well design and stylish dark bottle (for better product preservation). The durability of this bottle is currently estimated at more than twenty uses. But, how much doest it cost? At the checkout, the customer pays 1€ per returnable bottle. This sum is given back to the customer as soon as he/she returns the bottle to the shop without even cleaning it. Simple, effective and practical.

Washing process

Last but not the least step: washing process. At the moment, this step is performed in the shop where is located the pilot protect. A professional dishwasher has been completely customized and adapted to receive the different sized bottles sold. Eventually, Jean Bouteille should have washing stations within a radius of 20-30 km from the shops using this solution.

With Jean Bouteille, customers are no longer forced to buy containers that they don’t know what to do after use and eventually, at best, that end up in a recycling bin. Instead, they can buy the amount of liquid which they really needs while consuming good quality products without contributing to avoidable waste production. Costumers don’t own the bottles, so they don’t need to worry about having an empty and clean container while going to the grocery store.

What we think of Jean Bouteille

Jean Bouteille concept is, indeed, a perfect example of:

  • circular economy, avoiding as much as possible waste by encouraging reuse
  • saving feature by selling a service (or a use) rather than a product (here, carrying and keeping liquid in a secure and hygienic container)
  • frugal innovation… or the art of making more (or better) with less! An ideal combination of bulk, refundable bottles and washing, all in a narrow geographic area

The next step for Gérard is to continue developing his pilot project and expand its concept to other regions.


We thank Gerard for this interview. We are delighted to launch this world tour of sustainable experiences with the portrait of a young motivated and motivating man. If you want to know more about Jean Bouteille, have a look to its website.

Did you like this portrait? Do you want us to interview a specific person leading a project related to sustainable development? Let us know in the comments box!

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# Route : Back home …

Après un an sur les routes d’Europe et d’Asie, un petit break s’impose. Nous quittons donc le Japon pour faire une escale de quelques semaines en France avant de reprendre la route. Vous en saurez plus sur la suite de notre itinéraire en temps voulu.

En revanche, vous pouvez découvrir notre page itinéraire, reprenant l’ensemble des destinations de cette première année mais aussi, une carte avec l’ensemble des destinations prévues pour ces deux ans de périple !

After a whole year on the roads of Europe and Asia, a little break is needed. We leave Japan for a stopover of a few weeks in France before hitting the road again. We’ll let you know where we’re going next in a while.

You can now go on our page about our itinerary, where you will fin all the destinations of this first year and a map with the whole 2 years trip !!


# Route : 日本

Nous laissons derrière nous le Cambodge et l’Asie du Sud-Est pour nous rendre au pays du Soleil levant. Ce pays est l’aboutissement d’un rêve pour Tatiana.

Japon - 日本

  • capitale : Tokyo – 東京
  • langue(s) : Japonais
  • superficie : 377 915 km² soit environ 1,7 fois plus petit que la France
  • spécialités locales : les célèbres sushis, sashimi et maki, les yakitori (brochettes de viande), les tempuras (petits beignets), les ramens (plat de pâtes), les okonomiyaki (galettes fourrées de divers ingrédients) et les daifuku (pâtisserie à base de pâte de riz) … et tant de choses que nous souhaitons goûter !
  • boissons locales : le thé vert, les bières (Asahi Super Dry, Kirin ou Sapporo), le saké (alcool de riz) et le umeshu (alcool de prune)
  • proverbe : 継続は力なり。 – La persévérance est une force
  • Tatiana a envie de parcourir Shikoku à pieds de temples en temples, de découvrir la culture et les traditions nippones et d’apprendre quelques rudiments de japonais
  • Romain a envie de voir les macaques japonais et gravir le mont Fuji

We leave Cambodia and South-East Asia to land to the Land of the rising sun. Tatiana always dreamed on going to Japan. Here we are.

Japan- 日本

  • capital: Tokyo - 東京
  • language(s): Japanese
  • area: 377 915 km² (about 1.7 times smaller than France)
  • local food: the famous sushis, sashimi and maki, yakitori (meat kebabs), tempuras (small fritters), ramens (pasta), okonomiyaki (waffle stuffed with various ingredients) and daifuku (pastry based on rice dough)
  • local drinks: green tea, beers (Asahi Super Dry, Kirin or Sapporo), saké (rice alcohol) and umeshu (plum brandy)
  • proverb: 継続は力なり。- Perseverance is strength
  • Tatiana wants to hike from temples to temples on Shikoku, discover Japanese culture and traditions and learn some more Japanese words
  • Romain wants to see Japanese macaques and climb the Fuji Mount

Why Japan? Neither Japan-addict nor manga-follower, Tatiana has always been attracted to Japan without gather informations about this country. She just wants to go there and to discover Japanese lifestyle and culture. For this special trip, she wants to learn some Japanese words before landing on the land of the rising sun. Hope she’ll manage to win this bet! Romain just want to hike through the different islands and taste new food. And they will do that despite Fukushima…

What is the next stop in our sustainable experiences and food adventures world tour?

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