Innovative waste-to-energy project profits community.

AuthorHerro, Alana

In a new partnership, 13 municipalities in Argentina have agreed to send their refuse to an innovative waste treatment facility that will turn it into electricity, biodiesel, water, and animal feed. The communities, in turn, will receive half of the profits from sales of these goods. The collaboration aims to address the excess garbage problem in the region, help address Argentina's rising electricity demand, provide clean water, and create much-needed jobs and income for rural people, according to Anne Usher of FUVAAL, an organization that promotes affordable housing in Latin America.

WaterSmart Environmental, Inc., a provider of waste-to-renewable energy technologies, partnered with FUVAAL to develop the community-centered project in Argentina's Cordoba province. Government officials and volunteers from the 13 municipalities worked with WaterSmart to determine which of the many possible byproducts would be most beneficial for the region. The goods are first being offered to local residents and then sold outside the immediate area. The company is also training and employing local people to help operate the plant. In return for their garbage, the municipalities will receive 50 percent of the net profits, to be used for community projects.

The undertaking is unique, Usher says, because it uses "responsible capitalism" and is about helping people and the environment while still earning sufficient profits. The pre-feasibility study indicates that even with the payments to the community, the project "provides a very healthy rate of return on investment, sufficient to satisfy most investor requirements."

The technology behind the waste-to-energy process involves placing the trash in an anaerobic, or...

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