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From the Wege Prize to the environment! Students seek innovative solutions for disposing of organic waste
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Their purpose is to enable the search for places that can receive organic waste for reuse, to reduce the waste sent to landfills, and at the same time drive circular business initiatives.

By JOSÉ ÁNGEL DE LA PAZ | EGADE BUSINESS SCHOOL

With the idea of promoting the use of leftover food, students of Tecnológico de Monterrey's EGADE Business School and School of Engineering and Sciences teamed up and reached the semifinal of the 2021 Wege Prize.

This international competition, organized annually by KCAD's Wege Center for Sustainable Design, seeks to encourage undergraduate, master's, and doctoral students worldwide to propose innovative solutions to today's most pressing global problems, creating circular business models.

The team members are:

• Andrea Cantú Garza and Bernardo Bello Castañeda, students of the Ph.D. in Administrative Sciences at EGADE Business School.

• Bertha Leticia Treviño Elizondo, a Ph.D. in Engineering Sciences student, and Iqui Balam Heredia Marín, a B.Sc. in Mechatronics Engineering, both from the Tec School of Engineering and Sciences.

• Israel Zúñiga de la Mora, an undergraduate Mathematics student at Mexico's Open and Distance University.

They presented the project "Recipe for Leftovers", involving donations of food in good condition and a smart trashcan to take advantage of food leftovers in restaurants and reduce the organic waste ending up in landfills.

THEIR PATH THROUGH THE COMPETITION

In the initial phase, 35 teams made up of 175 students, representing 88 educational institutions in 29 countries and 114 academic disciplines, competed.

The team passed this first round, reaching the second-round list of 25 teams. They were then selected among the 11 teams that advanced to the semifinal, where their participation in the competition ended.

During these phases, they enhanced their understanding and research into the problem they had chosen to solve, presented their solution proposal to an international jury, and used the feedback they received to perfect their idea.

Only five teams advanced to the final of the 2021 Wege Prize and the three winners were named last June.

EVOLVING THEIR PROJECT

The idea that they presented for the Wege Prize evolved into the project that today they call “From the Earth to the Earth”.

"The same team still works on the initiative, but the idea was transformed as a result of the comments of the Wege Prize judges," said Cantú Garza.

The doctoral candidate explained that now the project is mainly focused on diagnosing Mexico’s organic waste problem, specifically in the state of Nuevo León.

"We were able to finance the project with a donation from Fundación FEMSA," she explained.

“As part of her research,” she said, “we are carrying out surveys to understand the practices of disposal and use of organic waste in Nuevo Leon restaurants and homes.”

The purpose of the project "From the Earth to the Earth", explained Cantú Garza, is to enable the search for places that can receive organic waste for reuse, in order to reduce the waste sent to landfills.

In addition, she indicated, the project seeks to promote the creation of sustainable business models, with the help of entrepreneurs and/or companies that wish to recycle their waste and give it a second use, either by making compost or livestock feed.

"Our ideal scenario is to make it easy for people to find places that receive organic waste; we also want to trigger circular business initiatives that use this waste as input," concluded Cantú Garza.

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