Green Slime. We all know what it is. This is a global ecological problem. But did you ever wonder where it comes from? Green slime is a result of agricultural runoff. Nutrients get washed into our water. And this causes algae to bloom. Animal agriculture is the leading cause for environmental degradation in the form of greenhouse gas as well - leading all sectors of transportation combined.
As the winner of the Malta 2015 Climate KIK Business Idea contest we have started an innovative service for water recycling and sustainability communications. We are particularly focused on agricultural wastewater as there is an enormous need to address this. Animal agriculture is the number one source of green house gas more than all sectors of transportation combined.
How does your solution work, and what is the long-term vision for global impact?
The idea is to use natural elements to treat agricultural wastewater - And recover the nutrients in it. We have a design to take existing established technology and re-purpose it.
We take organic waste and run it through our unit - what comes out is recycled water and nutrient. We don't use chemicals. We use a proven, effective, tested, and natural process.
We deliver a compact tailor made microbial wastewater unit for 50% of the savings for the first three years of operation and we remove the sludge. We vermicompost the residual material to recover the nutrients. That means we take the leftover stuff and let worms process it. You get the water to use for irrigation and washing and don't have to worry about disposal or runoff. The unit has low energy requirements and running costs.
Our long term vision: For every three units we install at full fee we give one unit to a deserving community.
This creates the opportunity for licensing the service and creating entrepreneurial activity while addressing the groundwater and seapage issue pervading agricultural regions. The global impact will be addressing the exponential rise in waste from increased farming yields. Current disposal methods are not keeping pace with the associated increases in livestock.
In what way is the solution unique from other approaches that exist in this space? What is the new perspective or methodology?
Throughout history the planet has been able to clean itself up and recycle on it's own. We leverage the wily capability of natural systems to restore balance. The technology has been used in municipal waste and is superior to current disposal methods. Re-purposing for agriculture and industrial wastewater has not had a large market penetration because of the methods of marketing. We are not merely selling the units but providing an end to end solution and service.
How far has your team progressed in the development of this solution? How do you measure your progress and methodological rigor?
We are currently raising funds to build our prototype. This is the result of 4 years of research into the matter. Both from a business perspective and a scientific plan. Our progress will be measured by the number of free units we install and of course the measurable reduction in agricultural runoff and material appearance in public waterways.
What resources are most needed for the solution to scale and have considerable impact? Please include your short-term, medium-term and long-term needs.
Our short term goal is to install the units in Malta and establish the system here through grant subsidies. While the Maltese market cannot sustain the business profitably its a great place to base operations and logistics. Malta is fabulous to visit and in the center of the Mediterranean a perfect spot to ship from. Malta is also a wonderful place to do our prototype study and initial designs. It has a small dairy industry and issues with water scarcity that would be helped by the introduction of our unit.
Our medium term goals are to establish several centers of operation in high animal agriculture areas with the farm size and government ordinance to support installs at a profit. These areas of interest are New Zealand, Canada, Australia, The United States and continental Europe. Every five units will support a vermicomposting farm. The farms are a great place to create green entrepreneurial activity and foster the dissemination of sustainability practice.
Our long term goals are to establish independent licenses through out the world and generate a sizable investment to repurchase these licenses - thereby creating a global brand in the sector. Additionally we plan to make free installs in deserving communities where it might not be profitable to operate - but the wastewater recovery method is still needed. Each of these installs will also require establishing vermicomposting creating a beachhead for sustainability.
Who are the founders?
Dr Joseph A. Buhagiar
Department of Biology, University of Malta
Dr Joseph Buhagiar was born in Zejtun. Joseph graduated with a B Ed (Hons) degree in the teaching of biology and science from the University of Malta, further specializing in Botany and soil science abroad before moving on to an MPhil from the faculty of Medicine and later reading for a PhD with Notthingham University both on the bioactive compounds from local plant species.
Dr Buhagiar presently holds a post at the University of Malta’s department of biology as well as being the director of the Argotti botanic gardens, playing a role in studying the diverse endemic plant species of Malta.
His research mainly focuses on isolating extracts from various endemic and indigenous plants. He then studies the effects of these extracts on induction of apoptosis in cancer cells and also tests them for any anti-microbial effects. He has done considerable research on the national tree, Tetraclinus articulata and has supervised numerous students, encouraging them into the world of botany and cell biology.
Since taking up his post at the University, Dr Buhagiar has been involved with botanic garden research with a number of European countries as well as participating in a European projects including Semclimed.
Was born in 1960. In 1982 he graduated B. Ed (Hons) and started teaching biology first at ordinary level and in 1987 at advanced level. Joseph continued his post graduate studies from 1991where he attended several diploma courses abroad, and eventually obtained an M. Phil. and a Ph. D specialising in the bioactivity of plant chemicals. In 1994 moved on to the University as Curator and now occupies a full time lecturing post with the Department of Biology and is also Director for the Argotti Botanic Gardens, Floriana. Joseph is married to Rita and has four children – Denise, Malcolm, Arthur and Karl. He was a Żejtun resident till 2003 and now lives in Marsascala.
20 YEAR MEDIA DEVELOPMENT EXPERIENCE
Skilled in design production and execution. Media Production has included: Cartoon Network, UPS, Coca-Cola, Arista Records, FUBU, Marci Zaroff, Med Center Direct, FUBU, NYC Parks Dept. University of Malta. Key job experiences developing urban greening and sustainability media. Current focus on the efficacy of short form video for use in sustainability communication. This puts a new spin on the use of youtube. .
Life highlights: Co-designed a cartoon network promotion that when launched crashed their servers due to traffic volume. Met David Byrne twice and only made him mad the first time. Spoke once to Moonunit Zappa and didn’t seem to make her mad at all. Dissertation on sustainability communication at the University of Malta in the Earth Sciences Dept. Focused on short form video and it’s application to sustainability. Won first place in a Maltese business idea competition for climate change remediation resulting in a trip to Amsterdam and learning what Jenever is. Traveled to the Great Wall of China and participated in the XMediaLab Beijing “Creative Economies: Digital and Virtual” and the grand opening of the Cyber-Recreation District . Have an amazing wife and live in Malta.
See bluemarblenews.com for videos and more info
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