Puerto Rico, like most islands across the globe, has an issue with waste. Over 4 million tons are produced per year and only 9-14% of that is recycled, compared to the average recycling rate in the U.S. of 32%. Lack of access to curbside recycling and inconsistent services mean that recyclable materials often don’t make it into the system. Additionally, due to the prevalence and availability of inexpensive dumping at formal and informal landfills, there is little incentive for communities to pursue recycling systems further. This has resulted in many local landfills operating in an unsanitary manner or facing closure orders from the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Puerto Rico also relies heavily on imports, which account for 85% of the food consumed on the island, for example. This combination leads to a lot of waste being brought to the island without good mechanisms for disposal or reuse of resources. Many resources could be repurposed and used for new products, contributing to the circular economy and reducing the reliance on raw materials. The creation of circular manufacturing models in Puerto Rico could reduce the reliance on import of new products, an expensive endeavor that creates high prices and long wait times for new items.
Strengthening the island’s existing tire recycling ecosystem by enabling the production of high value commodities (e.g. recovered carbon black (RCB), oils, downstream products using RCB such as building materials, water filtration systems, creative applications, etc). Technologies of interest should work within the island’s generation of 18,000 tires per day while remaining economically viable.
This project seeks to test the potential of creating a new value chain for sargassum in Puerto Rico by capitalizing on the increased sargassum accumulation in the last decade. Pilots can address one or more stages in the value chain, including collection, bio-refinement, and productization. Solutions should seek to create the pathway for an integrated sargassum value-chain.
InvestPR is a 501(c)3 nonprofit public-private partnership that works to elevate Puerto Rico as a world-class business destination. Their mission is to promote Puerto Rico as a competitive investment jurisdiction to attract new business and capital investment to the island. InvestPR serves as a transformational and results-oriented accelerator of economic development in Puerto Rico.