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Sistema Biobolsa: Addressing Challenges of Climate Change, Sustainable Agriculture and Waste Management in Mexico

The case chronicles the innovation in Bio-digester technology in Mexico led by Alex Eaton and Camilo Pages through a social enterprise ‘Sistema Biobolsa’. It describes how the two social entrepreneurs created an innovative waste and resource management system by re-imagining 150-year old biogas production. The innovation brought together high-quality membrane, durable modular parts, and anaerobic bio-digesters that transformed animal waste into renewable energy (bio-gas) and organic fertilizer.

Sistems Biobolsa addressed several challenges that small and marginal farmers in Mexico and across the world faced – low yielding land due to excess use of chemical fertilizers, lack of organic fertilizers, unviable waste disposal methods and limited access to energy. Sistema Biobolsa converted organic waste into organic fertilizer and renewable energy. With investment of US$ 600, a farmer with two cows could save upto US$ 40 per month in the cost of fuel and fertilizers. The Biogas produced was environmentally friendly. It reduced methane emissions, utilized the waste, reduced deforestation, protected the soil and also improved the quality of farmers’ lives. Sistema Biobolsa addressed issues like poverty, food security, and climate change and provided sustainable and productive solutions to small farmers.

To cater to the needs of different farmers, bio-digesters were available in several sizes and could be installed within a day. Farmers could start using the system after the first month of installation. The company provided loans and technical support to farmers for installation of the system.

Eaton expanded Sistema Biobolsa to Kenya, Colombia, Nicaragua and India. Still there were many issues that Eaton needed to address. He needed to improve distribution to reach out to more than 4 million small farmers in Mexico. He was looking at making a huge impact to address the issues of global warming and climate change. Can a small venture in Mexico address these big global problems?

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