Organic Solid Waste: Capturing Benefits

Organic Solid Waste: Capturing Benefits

Costa Rica
Organization type: 
for profit
Budget: 
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Rather than hauling away or burying onsite approximately 10,000 Kgs. of food waste annually, we demonstrate the multiple organic benefits that can be derived by processing fruit-vegetable peelings and table scraps. In addition to making over 3,500 Kgs. of organic compost, we feed pigs to capture methane gas to fuel the staff kitchen; the pigsty wastewater feeds aquatic plants and the meat used to feed employees and their families; and, red worm composts and whey-based fertilizers boost herb and garden production.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The volume of organic wastes depends on the number of guests in Lapa Rios. This creates a fluctuation in the amount of captured bio-products. Conversely, the capacity to successfully process excess organic waste volume (during holidays, the busiest tourism season) overwhelms our covered workspace. Additionally, both the staff and guest kitchens require constant monitoring for cooperation, and necessitate continuous education and follow up regarding employee responsibility to organic waste separation practices. On the community scale, local families are curious about recycling, having seen the benefits from trash collection, separation and recycling efforts by school children and tourism employees. However, few programs exist in the Osa Peninsula to process recyclables much less to derive benefits from organic wastes.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Lapa Rios has modernized and systematized long-standing methods to demonstrate that recycling organic wastes minimizes environmental impact, reduces business costs, and, that most sustainable practices are easy and make good sense. The many organic re-use projects demonstrate our commitment to improve our own environmental and social responsibility. We educate the lodge employees, the local community and businesses to the steps and practices required for success, as well as our guests during the Twigs, Pigs and Garbage tour, a behind the scenes peek at sustainable practices throughout the Lapa Rios project. These organics wastes demo proves most captivating.
About You
Organization:
Lapa Rios
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Section 1: About You
First Name

Karen

Last Name

Lewis

Organization

Lapa Rios Ecolodge

Country

, PU

Section 2: About Your Organization
Organization Name

Lapa Rios

Organization Phone

+1 (506) 2735-5130

Organization Address

Pto. Jiménez,

Organization Country

, PU

Your idea
Country your work focuses on

, PU

Would you like to participate in the MIF Opportunity 2010?

Yes

Innovation
Do you have a patent for this idea?

Impact
What impact have you had on your clients and the tourism sector?

By modeling something as simple as food composting or producing "worm tea," individual and business replication becomes easier; most people begin dreaming and making strategies how they will personally respond to their own organic waste in their homes or businesses after seeing the Lapa Rios systems. Capturing and using methane from collected food scraps is amazing to witness yet an unlikely replication--but it does grab attention! It's then easier for people to identify the few steps needed to make organic fertilizer at home. The necessary component: personal responsibility to trash separation, composting organic wastes and ultimately, healthier eating habits and a cleaner world. Many employees have new compost projects, as do informed local businesses and guests.

Actions

Lacking adequate shelter space to quickly convert peelings into bio-fermented compost (presently a 2-3 months process), we need a large food chopper-grinder to reduce the peeling size for a faster compost turnover (to 1 month). This would double in volume of compost per year, as well as create a greater fertilizer production. We constantly work to educate our all-local staff to the benefits gained in organic separations. And along with ongoing training, we monitor and record employee cooperation in both the employee and guest kitchens to compliance with waste separation practices: peelings make the best compost and fertilizer, and a greater volume of methane is realized when pigs get their preferred table scraps.

Results

We have improved the biodigestor process to produce, capture and transfer methane from exclusively table scraps, so that in 2010 the staff kitchen (150 meals daily) is solely fueled by methane, thus eliminating propane gas use. We know smaller organic waste pieces produce faster bocachi (compost), bio-fermented and worm fertilizers, and would yields more liquid and compost fertilizers faster. That with improved environmental education, habits changes and some organization within the community, these easy practices and processes could be replicated again and again, especially because so many local leaders work in tourism and have witnessed the social and environmental benefits gained by recycling and reusing organics.

What will it take for your project to be successful over the next three years? Please address each year separately, if possible.

Greater staff education and cooperation-through-understanding yields greater results. Time and patience are needed to boost kitchens' organic separation efficiency. Greater refinement in onsite bio-product operations and routine practice improvement will streamline the methane, compost and fertilizer output. Complete input and output data already informs new directions; changes aid the process. Our staff Sustainability Director, Andres Soley, is a dedicated professional, eager to make Lapa Rios a world model of ecotourism demonstrating responsible action with organic wastes.
• 2010—2011: Herb garden production was developed in 2010, and will expand output in 2011 using improved bio-fermentation operations. Complete change from propane in methane in staff kitchen.
• 2012—2013: Ornamental demonstration plant gardens (Osa-indigenous)—a guest/community education program—and our re-forestation trees nursery will be expanded with more composts and fertilizers.
• 2011—2013: with greater organic waste collection within the nearby communities, cooperative compost and fertilizer production could be realized. Landfill burdens would improve and contamination to soils and rivers greatly reduced. Community education—and confidence to change habits—is greatest when a demonstration model is successful. Lapa Rios can be used as a learning institution for a larger community response.

What would prevent your project from being a success?

More staff education and cooperation would yield more results. Greater refinement in onsite bio-product operations and routine practice improvement will streamline the methane, compost and fertilizer output. Complete input and output data already informs new directions; changes aid the process. Our staff Sustainability Director, Andres Soley, is a dedicated professional eager to make Lapa Rios a world model of ecotourism demonstrating responsible action using organic wastes.
• 2010—2011: Improved herb garden production in 2010, and will expand output in 2011 using bio-fermentation operations. Completed changeover from propane in methane in staff kitchen.
• 2012—2013: With more composts and fertilizers, ornamental demonstration gardens (Osa-indigenous, a guest/community education program) and our reforestation tree nursery will be expanded.
• 2011—2013: Recycling and organic waste collection within the nearby communities, cooperative compost and fertilizer production could be realized. Landfill burdens would improve and contamination to soils and rivers greatly reduced. Community education, confidence to change habits, is greatest when a demonstration model is successful. Lapa Rios can be used as a learning institution for a larger community-wide response.

How many people will your project serve annually?

1001‐10,000

What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

$100 ‐ 1000

Does your project seek to have an impact on public policy or introduce models and tools that benefit the tourism sector in general?

Yes

Sustainability
What stage is your project in?

Operating for more than 5 years

In what country?

, PU

Is your initiative connected to an established organization?

Yes

If yes, provide organization name.

Lapa Rios Ecolodge

How long has this organization been operating?

More than 5 years

Does your organization have a Board of Directors or an Advisory Board?

Yes

Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with NGOs?

Yes

Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with businesses?

Yes

Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with government?

Yes

Please tell us more about how these partnerships are critical to the success of your innovation.

Using the guidelines of Costa Rica's Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST) we have identified and work with several other tourism partners to improve sustainable responses throughout our individual businesses. Cayuga Sustainable Management (a hospitality management company operating in Central America) oversees most of our partnerships. Working collectively and alone, these sustainable tourism partners share new information about the latest best practices and products to improve our environmental and social responses—even to the point of sharing Pacific red worms.

What are the three most important actions needed to grow your initiative or organization?

We need to develop a greater understanding with our own employees and their families to the urgency of changing personal and household habits. Education and change require time and patience, but with more defined objectives we could minimize the number of years needed to bring compliance. A second action we can improve is to follow up with former guests, to send them reminders to Be in Action in their areas, not only when traveling. Though most of our guests are highly sophisticated and experienced travelers, many assume sustainable responsibility belongs to others, not themselves. Our follow up needs to promote effective habit changes. Thirdly, we need to better market the multiple sustainable projects we undertake to make Lapa Rios sustainable. Though guest satisfaction to the wilderness experience ranks high, the favored takeaway is the affection guest feel for the local community and the future preservation for the Osa. To honor both the guests--present and past, this area’s biodiverse wilderness and its community, it is imperative we continue to share the message that we are all connected by the environment: everyone must act responsibly in guarantee a future.

The Story
What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

That utilizing food scraps only makes good sense. That everyone eats, creates organic waste. So by Lapa Rios recycling food wastes to make bio-products we can trigger curiosity and spur replication, therby lessening the environment impact and lowering out of pocket costs.

Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.

Some of our employees are farmers who had seen a Ministry of Agriculture demonstration about biodigestors, this in about 2002. They convinced Lapa Rios owners and management to try raising pigs to create methane gas to supplement the fuel in the employee's kitchen. Like all sustainable efforts, one practice has lead to the more measures, greater visions, and soon we created not only methane but rich composts and fertilizers, using all the energy from the organics.

How did you first hear about Changemakers?

Through another organization or company

If through another, please provide the name of the organization or company

Long Run Destinations

MIF Opportunity 2010
Has your organization been legally constituted or registered in your country or one of your target countries for at least three years?

Yes

Does the applicant organization have sufficient financial resources to guarantee the co-financing required by MIF during the execution period of the project? (This amounts to at least 50% of the project’s total budget with 25% in cash and 25% in-kind.)

Yes

Does the applicant organization have experience managing projects co-financed by international organizations? Please describe below

No.

Please classify the applicant organization according to the options below

What problem-area does your project address?

Access to knowledge and training.

How will your project address this problem?

By designing and executing a successful model of organic waste recycling, and sharing that model as a training institute for broader community improvement responses. Presently,few families recycle, lacking understanding to short and long-term benefits. There is only one recyclable center in the town, voluntarily run by high school students. No organic waste separation or collection is organized.

Who is benefited by the initiative? (Please highlight the type and number of beneficiaries, and their role in the tourism value-chain.)

In Lapa Rios, the organic waste recycling models serve the 60+ employees with new habits and benefits gained through their actions. As a sustainable demonstration project for guests, we impact about 3,000 visitors annually; the spin off from this greater awareness to simple replication is unmeasured but assured. As a sustainable community development project for recycling organic waste, it could potentially spur replication throughout the entire Osa Peninsula communities, a population that is growing exponentially each year with added tourism businesses (about 5,000 people year 2010).

How will the project's results assist the region’s tourism sector and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises?

That IF a small ecotourism lodge can produce bio-products from organic wastes efficiently and at minimum costs, the same process can be duplicated in private homes, small and large businesses and at the community level. We know from other models we have designed and used for demonstration, replication is a great compliment. There are many eager and curious residents who want to act locally. Presently, their passion exceeds their funding capacity.

A. Total Budget (100%)

US$ 40,000.

B. MIF Contribution (up to 50% of total budget and US$. 500.000 max)

US$ 20,000.

C. Cash co-financing (at least 25% of total budget)

US$ 10,000.

D. In kind co-financing (at least 25% of total budget)

US$ 10,000.

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