When we think of “waste,” many consider it a lost cause - something that is used up, harmful to our planet, and serves no greater purpose. In the world of agriculture, waste is produced by animals and offers no benefit to the farm, the farmer or the broader environment. Waste is an unfortunate consequence, but it is not the only toxin that exists on farms. In order to remain viable in the competitive agriculture industry, small farms must spend a significant portion of their income on chemical fertilizers generated from fossil fuels, which are also detrimental to the environment.
Sistema Biobolsa, however, sees things differently. What if this waste could be an output and an input for a productive farm? With this fresh and unique perspective, Sistema Biobolsa is able to turn an otherwise unusable material into a resource for farmers, and a new approach towards climate resilience.
So how does it work? The technology converts waste, specifically animal manure, into biogas and biofertilizer. The biogas can replace other energy sources purchased for cookstoves, such as wood and liquid petroleum. These fuels release dangerous CO2 emissions into the environment, contributing to global warming. The biofertilizer, called biol, allows harvests to be more fruitful. Other fertilizers might offer similar benefits, but biol is unique in that it offers a socio-environmental impact through improved income as well as reduction in green house gas (GHG) emissions and poor waste management. One user reports that she is “fertilizing [her] garden with biol and ... even sells the excess on the local market,” meaning that the biol not only helps users save money, but also generates income.
At present, Sistema Biobolsa has installed over 3,000 biodigestors in Mexico and Latin America. This translates to more than:
- 150,000 tons of waste treated
- 4,500 tons of biogas produced
- 17,000 tons of CO2 mitigated
- 350,000 tons of biol created
The enterprise has received numerous recognitions, including being an Ashden Award Finalist in 2010 and a finalist of the Buckminster Fuller Challenge in 2014. Altogether, its approach towards waste management offers extensive social and environmental benefits, as its technology transforms waste into a path of potential for social and environmental opportunity.