EARTH graduate Marco Fioravanti (‘03, Ecuador) makes his home in the city of Guayaquil, Ecuador. The youngest of four siblings, he is a passionate surfer who cares deeply about the health of not only the ocean but also the land. His mission: to promote recycling.
According to Marcos, people hear about recycling and try to implement a recycling program, but stop when they realize that it requires more than just installing a few color-coded bins in an area––the proper local infrastructure must also be in place for it to work. He explains: “You have to track the waste, build people’s capacity through training, follow up on the waste cycle, and understand the logistics of collection and sale.”
Driven by his vision, Marcos founded Ambiente Creativo (Creative Environment), a business that aims to sustainably develop the private sector through the design and creation of eco-friendly products and services. In his business plan he has always focused on waste management, and recycling in particular. He comments, “We have tropicalized recycling to suit our context. Before, there were people talking about recycling in theory, and people selling recycling containers, but they never adapted it to the logistics and infrastructure of our local situation.”
Ambiente Creativo manages information about the kind of recyclable waste that Ecuadorian households generate––its proportions, potential profits, and the best intermediaries to whom the waste can be sold. Such knowledge inspired their most innovative project, the “Marco Reciclador”, a recycling system tailored to fit each customer’s home. In order to offer a complete service, the business provides customers with information about how to correctly classify waste, and links them to recycling centers in the city.
In addition to empowering the public to recycle in their homes, Ambiente Creativo has demonstrated environmental leadership in another way: for every “Marco Reciclador” purchased, the company donates 5 USD towards planting and caring for a tree.
Investing in training is also an important part of the work done by Ambiente Creativo, whose staff teaches community leaders, schools, government offices, and companies to implement and monitor a good recycling program, and introduces them to local waste management specialists. After the training, each participant has the necessary knowledge to implement a functional and effective Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Program.
The business has also developed other products, such as the “Taladro de Tierra”, a highly-efficient, odor-free composting toilet that produces fertilizer without water, electricity, or a septic tank. Another innovative product it designed is “Huertos Aereos”, a tubular gardening system for rooftop gardens.
To what does the company owe its remarkable success? According to Marcos, “We have created many of our products through instinct—tuning into what is going on in the environment around us—and they end up being in great demand.”
His innovative approach has earned Fioravanti, along with two other researchers in sustainable sanitation, a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Grand
Challenges Explorations (GCE) initiative. GCE funds scientists and researchers worldwide to explore ideas that can solve persistent global health and development challenges. Marcos and his team will have 18 months to develop and test an eco-efficient toilet that does not use water or electricity, instead producing fertilizer for plants.
Ambiente Creativo recognizes the need to balance the limits of our planet’s natural resources with ever-expanding human needs. Such a challenge, rather than deterring Marcos and his colleagues, motivates their innovation. In terms of waste management, the solution is simple: rather than letting our trash pollute the land and ocean, we can honor the Earth by closing the waste cycle. Make it easy to be green, and it will become part of daily life.
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