Sustainable and decentralized wastewater management for communities and SMEs
At CPlantae we clean wastewater with worms and plants. Our technologies are sustainable alternatives for communities and SMEs in Mexico.
I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.
Scaling (the solution has passed the previous stages and is growing its impact on a regional or global scale)
Annual budget in 2017 (USD)
Number of beneficiaries impacted so far
Headquarters location: Country
Headquarters location: City
Location(s) of impact
Mexico: Tlaxcala, Puebla, Estado de México, Chiapas, Quintana Roo
This is a new brand wastewater treatment plant for a small cake factory which was commissioned recently. Each day, 8,000 L of cake and sanitary water will be effectively treated by worms and plants. The treated water and the recovered nutrients will be used for crop irrigation and fertilization, right behind.
Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?
Up to 80% of wastewater receives no adequate treatment in Mexico and Latin America, posing grave problems to public health and aquatic ecosystems. Although this is a multi factorial issue, creating and implementing suitable technologies remain as one of the main challenges. Communities and enterprises still use 100-years-old technologies that are unsustainable in the long run due to their operating costs, creating a vicious circle.
Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?
CPlantae is an environmental engineering firm aimed to develop sustainable technologies inspired by nature for wastewater management. Our allies include beautiful plants, hyperactive worms, and microorganisms. We achieve impact through three main activities, which are guided by the Sustainable Development Goals.
• Technology development: we have developed 3 technologies for wastewater management 1) biodegradable water treatment 2) floating gardens for polluted aquatic body recovery 3) worm toilets.
• Social entrepreneurship: we make our way through the highly competitive water treatment market thanks to our sustainable technological value proposition.
• Environmental empowerment: we share our knowledge with people who really need it and can not afford our services. We educate the public about the importance of water resources and sustainability
Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work
At present, across 5 states in Mexico, the sanitary engineering firm CPlantae treats ecologically >60,000 liters of wastewater daily with our various technologies, having an average organic removal efficiency of 95% and thus complying with Official Mexican Standards for the discharge of treated water. We expect this number to rise to > 150,000 liters per day by 2018 to multiply short-term benefits, which are evident:
• Reduced pollution of aquatic bodies by restoring ecological balance and mitigating threats to health
• Water consumption reduction by taking advantage of treated water to irrigate or discharge in toilets
• Micro-ecosystems are created that capture carbon dioxide
Besides, around 40,000 people has received our sustainability message, 50 people know how to build their own domestic system, and we have created 6 jobs.
Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?
We are a for-profit organization because we are convinced that this is the best way to scale and replicate impact. We usually sell our services for engineering and construction to SMEs and governmental customers while low-cost educational services are offered to communities so that they can build their own wastewater treatment facilities.
CPlantae is 90% supported on earned income and 10% of grants are dedicated to social projects and R&D.
Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?
Our value proposition is neatly stated in our mission: emulating nature to improve lives.
Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.
One day in 2011 in Tlaxcala, we contemplated a lake with aquatic lilies and suddenly an old peasant appeared to collect them. He said that he used them as food for his cattle and that he would leave some to multiply again, because they filtered the water with its roots. This technique to maintain the good quality of the water, transmitted for generations, had reached our ears. Intrigued, we did some bibliographical research and indeed there were vestiges of the use of aquatic plants since 1950 through the construction of functional gardens called artificial wetlands. We had the idea to replicate them to clean up the river Atoyac and that's how CPlantae started. Our inspiration comes from ancestral wisdom and scientific knowledge.
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