GCM faced a problem for treating waste generated by its hogs' cattle. They initiated using waste reservoirs that eventually hit capacity. They innovated using a bio-digester to transform waste into useful products for their own consumption and for local economy needs. GCM is now the centerpiece of a Circular Economy Model that supplies biofertilizers, treated water, and energy for themselves and for other stakeholders from different sectors. GCM contributes to two main sustainable development goals (SDG’s) as a Source of Affordable and Clean Energy through the use of Bio-gas, and as a Sustainable Production and Consumption Patterns supporting sustainable cattle food production in their own farmlands and using their in-house biofertilizer.
Brenda Cecilia Elizondo Martinez
Arturo Viveros Niaves
EGADE Business School Tecnologico de Monterrey
The biodigester uses as input the hog manure previously considered as waste. Then, an anaerobic process transforms the input into biofertilizer, biogas, and treated water.
The innovation emerged from the need to handle solids within the wastewater treatment system: their core business, hog production, generates plenty of organic waste: feces and urine, which are processed in an anaerobic digester that is part of a water treatment plant; this digester generates biogas, treated water and residual sludge; the latter, when accumulated, caused operative problems in the treating system and decreased capacity.
In 2016, the GCM team, with David Alcazar as the leader of the initiative, decided to evaluate alternatives for the residual sludge, so they performed biological effectiveness tests and found it is an excellent source of organic fertilizer. Since then, the fertilizer is used in GCM’s farmland, which produces grains and forage for feeding its hogs. This innovation completes the circular economy derived from the hog’s organic waste, using every residue: the treated water for land irrigation, the biogas for electricity, and now, the sludge as a fertilizer.
GCM's mission is declared by Alcazar as “in order to be the most profitable and sustainable hog company in North America, targets must be accomplished by its human capital through the comprehensive management of the environment, health and safety, livestock care, innocuousness, energy efficiency, quality, and social responsibility.”
As Alcazar explains in the interview, this project came about as a solution to an operative problem of the water treatment plant, but using this opportunity to expand the circular economy to another level – they already were generating treated water and biogas with the waste – came naturally to the vision the company has, particularly to its Comprehensive Management Policy, as the company is certified ISO 14001.
His role, as part of the Environment and Energy team, has a purpose that contributes to the sustainability, competitiveness, and productivity of GCM’s operations, via effective management of energy and the environment. He states this is not only the purpose of the area but also what drives the circular economy model. Finding new ways to minimize waste, turning it into an input for other processes.
Furthermore, Alcazar explains, “I feel totally satisfied at a personal and professional level. As the leader of the implementation of this project, I materialize the dream of every agronomist, to be in the farmland and with the machinery, solving problems within the industry. One always aspires to solve issues, and now I have the opportunity to do so.”
This innovation has economic, social, and environmental impacts. Generating their own biofertilizer, GCM eliminates the need to purchase chemical fertilizer, while also generating economic value activating “idle lands” into highly productive farmlands, increasing their business unit’s profitability. This brings an added benefit of restoring the soil of the community which was very eroded from years of use of chemical fertilizers.
Furthermore, as biofertilizer production is larger than GCM's demand, the company donates the surplus generated to the local farmers and also plays the role of cooperative manager allocating independent crops with larger food and beer manufacturers on strategic alliances.
In the long-term, it is building a strong partnership relationship with the surrounding community, thus coexisting with it in harmony, achieving a permanent win-win scenario where economic prosperity is achieved by both GCM and the farmers while the environment is taken care of and nurtured.
GCM reduced costs by eliminating the use of chemical fertilizer in their farms and substituting it with their own biofertilizer, while also saving costs related to sludge disposal.
GCM expanded its business by using non-productive idle lands and is exploiting a source of income through selling surplus power generated to the Federal Electricity Commission.
GCM's innovation reduces in total its carbon footprint by ~13k ton of CO2 every year, which is equivalent to 138 thousand threes not being cut down.
The company activates the regional economy, and donates biofertilizer to local farmers and offers training for best agricultural practices.
GMC prevents water, soil, and air pollution by treating adequately waste and transforms waste into a bio soil-enricher product to replenish soils' natural components.
David Alcazar, Specialist in Sustainable Agriculture
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Perote, Veracruz, MX
Business Website: https://granjascarroll.com/
Year Founded: 1993
Number of Employees: 1001 to 5000
Granjas Carroll de Mexico (GCM) is a Mexican company established in 1993; its core business is breeding, processing, and commercializing live hogs. GCM owns 18 pig farms across the states of Puebla and Veracruz in Mexico. GCM is a vertically-integrated business and also developed a circular economy model integrating hog farms, cattle food manufacturing, organic fertilizer production, farmlands, energy generation, and water treatment. GCM also supports local farmers and different industry players such as beer brewers (Heineken) and beef producers (SuKarne). GCM is the largest hog breeder in Mexico with 1.3 million pieces annually, equivalent to 10.5% of Mexico’s domestic production.