Design hyper-local and specific solutions for your products and services for your community. In the expansion of business services aligned with sustainability practices, business models and practices that are fundamentally oriented to provide specific solutions for each client can lead companies to specialized niche markets for a specific industry. SMEs are ideally positioned to explore these new opportunities in local markets because of their agility, knowledge of the area, and potential for support from people in the local industry.
This family-owned group, founded in 1979, focuses on services for agriculture, protein, and industrial packaging supplies. The company was created to provide manufacturing products and services for the packaging of agricultural, livestock, and industrial products. The company identified a gap in the industry’s services and found an interest in elaborating custom compost and vermicompost for customers’ specific soil type, transforming food, gardening, and livestock waste into organic soil improvers. This operated as a sustainable alternative for organic waste, preventing it from polluting a landfill or being burned, and instead returned the carbon to the soil. The overall mission remains the conversion of organic materials into compost for their over 350 clients.
Ciclo Vermicomposta has an alliance with an innovative German company that is a leader in sustainability. This alliance has a business model based on the production of packaging and packaging products with reusable materials. In partnership, the company began to introduce the use of reusable agricultural boxes for the entire agricultural region of Baja California and other parts of Mexico. Cajas Agrícolas currently supplies “RPC”, or Reusable Plastic Containers, to its customers. The process consists of providing the required reusable boxes, tracking them, collecting them, completing the cleaning and sanitation required by the food industries, and starting the process again. This product changed the use of thousands of tons of disposable cardboard packaging covered with paraffin for reusable plastic packaging in the region’s agricultural sector.
The company worked with farmers so that they could make the changes required and coordinate with the retailers in the collection. This change made it possible to identify that customers needed the disposal of inorganic and organic waste that was generated in their packaging and/or ranches. This was a problem for farmers as they were sending most waste to the municipal landfill, or it was being sold to local people who burned the biomass and generated more pollution.
The use of the term “circular economy” was adopted into the business to incorporate a new company that now provides its customers with packaging services and creates a circular model where farmers’ organic waste is composted for reintegration into local farms in the farming valley and households in urban areas.
Ciclo Vermicomposta Practices
|Multi-use plastic box for wholesale transport||Bespoke composting for farm soil|
|Introduction of multi-use packaging for the agricultural sector through reusable packaging with product tracking and restoring for reuse.||Circular model of reintegration of organic waste from farms and urban households.|
Key Actors in Ecosystem
Foreign business firm: A leader in sustainability in Germany, the company provided technical support, field visits, and partnership opportunities for the Vermicompost and Cajas Agricolas to begin adopting sustainability-oriented practices.
Local community association: The local organization has provided complementary skill sets on compositing and provides a supply of organic material for the company to compost, and in return, they advance their organization’s goal to reduce organic food and household waste.
Enabling Factors for Practices
|Internal to the organization||External to the organization|
|The vision and values of the owners: The leaders of Cajas Agrícolas and Ciclo-Vermicompost made the decision to work and invest in topics aimed at sustainability.||Collaboration with the civil society: dedicated to the collection and recycling of organic waste generated in homes, whose purpose is to make compost to produce soil full of nutrients. Ciclo Vermicompost carries out the work of transforming organics completely free of charge, and the organization use the time in collecting organic waste from the houses of the community and therefore grow as organization.|
|Expert staff in sustainability issues and agronomics to achieve the implementation of each of the practices. They have a "risk fund" for disaster management that helps them maintain two months of operations in case of emergency.||Collaboration with local producers: for the collection and reception of local organic matter such as: organic and conventional vegetables from agricultural companies, manure and garden waste.|
|Collaboration with a supplier company and leader in the management of reusable transport containers (ERT)|
Arresting Factors for Practices
|Internal to the organization||External to the organization|
|Lack of registration with certifying bodies: These validate compliance with the Mexican federal regulation and validate organic compliance. They are currently in the process of implementation to obtain both records as soon as possible.||Test time: Amount of elapsed time, in which agricultural producers know, use and verify the benefits of soil improvers in the production of their crops.|
Lesson for Disaster Risk Reduction
Providing custom soil enhancing composts is potentially a unique contribution to the soil quality of the agricultural region of this province. It has been well established that soil health is one of the greatest opportunities to build resilience to drought and extreme precipitation. The relationship between soil organic carbon (SOC) and a soil’s capacity to hold plant-available water is critical. Research shows that a 1% increase in SOC can result in about a 2-5% increase in a soil’s available water holding capacity. This is the equivalent of increasing the top 6 inches of a soil’s capacity to hold water by approximately 2,500 to 12,000 gallons per acre (SHI 2020). The company provides unique sustainability oriented practices to farming operations in the arid and water scarce region, therefore contributing to introducing an important input to strengthen long term farming disaster resilience.