Latin America disposes of 145,000 tons of organic waste daily to landfills and dumps. Among these are food scraps, half of which being organic waste. This practice directly affects the environment and brings along health issues for some 170 million individuals (Agência Brasil, 2017).
In this same context, Brazil also produces approx. 76 million tons of garbage per year, of which 30% could be recycled, but ends up with only 3% of waste being recycled (Cidades Inteligentes, 2019). In 2010, law No. 12.305/2010 instituted the National Solid Waste Policy, presenting procedures and responsibilities to Brazilian individuals. According to the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment, “organic waste, which represents about 50% of municipal waste generated in Brazil, has the particularity that it can be recycled through processes such as composting, at any scale, from domestic to industrial” (MMA, 2017: 5). However, the Brazilian municipalities do not easily manage the handling and destination of these substrates, and the organic waste ends up in landfills and dumps, what causes the loss of an organic matter that, if properly used, could return to the soil and fulfill a fertilization cycle through its very use as fertilizer (MMA, 2017). In this scenario, COMPOSTA MAIS arises from the experience and active engagement of its creators in socio-environmental actions and projects in the national and international context. Considered the demand, the project led by Théo Branco and Luiz Falcão promotes the proper management and disposal of organic waste, as well as stimulates and encourages the cultivation of organic products and vegetables by individuals and companies.
COMPOSTA+ was legally constituted in 2019, as a social enterprise belonging to Sector 2.5, focusing on reducing social and environmental impact through the collection and disposal of organic waste. Conceived by partners Théo Branco and Luiz Falcão, their actions and activities began 3 years before the legal formalization of the business.
In 2016, the partners, trained environmental engineers, came together and thought of promoting actions that could minimize environmental impact. By mid-2017, they began working with bio-digestion projects. However, given the risk of working with a gas-fuelled bio-digester, the two decided to hold back the project. By mid-2018, they began rethinking their actions and testing the idea of working with composting. From that moment on, the project was developed and finally launched in November 2018.
The activities of the organization serve the city of Curitiba, Paraná, with the collection of residential organic waste, however early on it expanded to businesses, especially restaurants, since the greatest impact occurs in the business environment due the amount of waste produced in these establishments.
The business was publicized by videos and social media (Facebook and Instagram). As a way to leverage its release, the founders sought to establish partnerships with enterprises with similar objectives, as in the case of Be Green (https://beegreen.eco.br/), a producer of stainless steel straws, operating in the Brazilian market. To gain more visibility, they also gave interviews to blogs, radios, and television.COMPOSTA MAIS has already participated in acceleration programmes and its start-up profile, with rapid growth, has already earned the enterprise financial injection. With a team of six, including the initial partners, the organization, attentive to market demands and aiming to promote social impact, seeks to expand and establish itself in the local, national and even international scenario.
The main motivation of the enterprise is to promote a solution to organic waste transforming this usable material – that is after all a fertilizer. The operation involves collecting and composting organic waste, and encouraging users and the general population to grow individual and/or even collective vegetable gardens.
Through a monthly subscription system, COMPOSTA+ offers organic waste collection services in homes and businesses. Each contractor signs up via the enterprise’s website, then receives a container (10/15 litre bucket) and a compostable bag for the disposal of organic waste, along with guidance for proper sorting. Collection logistics are made for homes and businesses according to customer availability and the amount of organic material produced. In general, for homes, collection occurs once a week, and for businesses more often, considering the size and production of waste. In the collection of organic waste there is a change of compostable bag and at the end of the month, the encouragement to produce organic vegetables happens through the delivery to customers of saplings of vegetables for their planting and consumption
COMPOSTA+ identified three main organization challenges. The first one involves legal aspects, which include environmental licensing and clearance for the proper functioning of the organization, also considering that each Brazilian state has specific laws in the environmental area. According to the founders, Paraná is one of the states with the highest legal rigidity in this regard (Falcão, 2019). The operation and expansion of the business must meet all these legal requirements, even to safeguard the process of wrong judgments or resistance from citizens.
The second challenge refers to the care with the technique and the work developed by COMPOSTA+, since although the technique of composting is millennial, action and awareness of the population in this movement is only recent.
Finally, aiming at the social expansion of the business, the founders seek to establish partnerships with the government in the medium and long-term, thus further enhancing the impact in this area, since the treatment of organic waste can be extended to entire cities.
Composting is a process that acts substantively on global warming, since 20% of greenhouse gases come from organic waste. Thus, the organization plays a role both in the local and global scenario. Its activities prove its impact from inception, with an explicit contribution to achieving the Seven Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). After a year of operation, the business already collaborates with 11 SDG’s. In its first year, the organization already assisted 180 homes and 80 restaurants with the daily collection of 2 tons of organic waste in total.
COMPOSTA MAIS recently implemented the Systems: Objectives & Key Results (OKRs) and Key Performance Indicator (KPI) as mechanisms for organizational evaluation of the impact of internal and external actions, thus measuring the scope of its results. Similarly, to expand its market, it hired salespeople to present and advertise their services to individuals, homes, and businesses.
Since the emergence of COMPOSTA MAIS, several practices can be identified, among which stand out the learning of users in performing the proper separation of waste. Singular individuals generate an average of 1 kg of waste per day, half of which being organic, and half – recyclable. Proper sorting allows the recyclable waste to be clean, without the disposal of materials with organic waste, which can be reused. COMPOSTA+ business customers report that benefits waste pickers’ handling of waste, as well as restaurant hygiene, and reduces the stench produced by the liquid portion of organic materials.
COMPOSTA+ facilities are located in a simplified environmental permit yard, where up to 10 tons of waste is treated per day. As an expansion plan, in a year the organization intends to have four courtyards in Curitiba, each having the capacity to treat 10 tons of organic waste a day. For the next 5 years, it aims to operate throughout the country, extending to other Brazilian states, providing for 100 treatment yards.
1. Agência Brasil (2017). América Latina joga 145 mil toneladas de lixo orgânico por dia em aterros. Available at <http://agenciabrasil.ebc.com.br/internacional/noticia/2017-11/america-latina-joga-145-mil-toneladas-de-lixo-organico-por-dia-em>. Accessed 13 Nov 2019.
2. Ministério do Meio Ambiente (2017).Compostagem doméstica, comunitária e institucional de resíduos orgânicos: manual de orientação. Brasília, DF: MMA. Available at <https://www.mma.gov.br/images/arquivo/80058/Compostagem-ManualOrientacao_MMA_2017-06-20.pdf>. Accessed 13 Nov 2019.
3. Cidades Inteligentes(2019) Cerca de 30% do lixo que chega aos aterros poderia ser reciclado. Available at <https://ci.eco.br/cerca-de-30-por-cento-do-lixo-poderia-ser-reciclado/>. Accessed 13 Nov 2019.
4. Falcão, L. Interview granted to Flavia Roberta Fernandes, 7 Nov 2019.
5. Credit to Carlos Olavo Quandt, Flavia Roberta Fernandes, Mari Regina Anastacio, Sara Regina Hokai and Ubiratã Tortato