Kuii laminas 2

KUII - Creating a Second Life for Organic Residues

KUII

9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities 12. Responsible Consumption and Production

Overview

Kuii is a biomaterial made from fruits waste that arises from an innovation process oriented to counteract the over consumption of single-use materials.

Kuii aims to inspiring communities to improve their consumption habits and to explore the great potential and versatility that Kuii has in a variety of applications and products by giving to organic waste a second chance through a friendly way with the environment.

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Kuii es un biomaterial fabricado a partir de residuos de frutas que surge como resultado de un proceso de innovación para contrarrestar el uso de materiales de un solo uso.

Busca inspirar a las comunidades a mejorar sus hábitos de consumo y a explorar su gran potencial y versatilidad en distintas aplicaciones y productos a través de una segunda oportunidad para los desechos orgánicos en armonía con el medio ambiente.

Authors

DIANA HELENA LÓPEZ

DIANA HELENA LÓPEZ

Berenice Garrido Hermida

Berenice Garrido Hermida

Fernanda Ortiz

Fernanda Ortiz

School

Universidad Iberoamericana Puebla

Universidad Iberoamericana Puebla

Professor

Miguel Hernández Lechuga

Miguel Hernández Lechuga

Innovation

Kuii, which in Mixtec language means “Green”, is a biomaterial that takes advantage of juices industry waste to turn itself into a useful product with a big potential to substitute conventional single-use plastics.

Kuii is a flexible laminate available in big broad of colors, sizes and thickness which is biodegradable and compostable in just a few weeks. The multiple applications where this biomaterial might be used basically depend on consumer´s imagination, however here you have a few of them: disposable plates, notebook covers, bags, packaging material, decoration items, plant pots and jewelry

Kuii emerged in 2015 in Puebla city, Mexico, when Claudia Coeto, one of its developers, was still a Biotechnology Engineering student at Tecnológico de Monterrey. Along with three other students, she developed this biomaterial as a solution to the big volumes of waste that was generated in their university´s canteen and later, they founded the company that now has the same name as this biomaterial.

Kuii´s vision has been able to connect with different people, projects and technologies in order to enhance its impact for the creation of ecologically responsible solutions. Claudia tells us: "Kuii's path has been constantly influenced by values that guide people towards a circular economy and collaboration with similar projects that mutually promote each other to improve the environment in which we live and benefit all the participants".

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Kuii, cuyo significado es Verde en lengua Mixteca, es un biomaterial que aprovecha los residuos de la industria de jugos para convertirse en un producto útil con un gran potencial para sustituir a los plásticos convencionales de un solo uso.

Kuii es un laminado flexible que se encuentra disponible en una gran amplia gama de colores, tamaños y grosores, el cual es completamente biodegradable y compostable en cuestión de semanas. Las aplicaciones en donde se puede utilizar este biomaterial dependen básicamente de la imaginación, pero podemos citar algunas de estos: platos, fundas de libretas, bolsas, material de empaque, artículos de decoración, macetas y joyería.

Kuii surgió en 2015 en la ciudad de Puebla, México, cuando Claudia Coeto, una de sus desarrolladoras, aún era estudiante de Ingeniería en Biotecnología en el Tecnológico de Monterrey. Junto con otras tres estudiantes desarrollaron este biomaterial como una solución ante el gran volumen de residuos y desperdicios que se generaban en la cafetería de su universidad y posteriormente fundaron la empresa que recibe el mismo nombre de este biomaterial.

La visión de Kuii ha logrado conectar con diferentes personas, proyectos y tecnologías con el fin de unificar y potenciar el impacto en pro de la creación de soluciones ecológicamente responsables. Claudia nos platica que, “el camino de Kuii ha sido constantemente influenciado por valores que orientan hacia la economía circular y a la colaboración con proyectos similares que mutuamente se impulsan para mejorar el entorno en el que vivimos, y beneficiar a todos sus participantes”.

KUII - Creating a Second Life for Organic Residues

Some of Kuii´s applications.

Inspiration

Claudia tells us the following: “we were shocked every time we saw the amounts of waste that were generated daily on our campus therefore, an idea arose between us to start collecting organic waste to design a new material whose use would not have such negative impact on the environment, and we started working on it as a project for one of the subjects we were attending in our last year of college, that´s how Kuii emerged”.

As many other entrepreneurships, Kuii´s project has not been linear from the beginning of its development in a university laboratory to its subsequent establishment as a company. Since then, the development and supply of an innovating alternative for an ecological and sustainable material, whose added value is precisely its low ecological footprint, has been the inspiration for Claudia and the rest of Kuii team. From this, Kuii has achieved a deep awareness in other people about the alternatives of existing materials in addition to the promotion of adequate waste disposal programs of small local juice companies, who are Kuii´s raw material main suppliers.

In addition, a great motivation for Kuii has been its great contribution to the environmental education of its consumers since it has led them to start questioning where the products they use daily really come from, so they can be aware of their use and may be able to acquire more sustainable habits.

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Claudia nos cuenta lo siguiente: “estábamos muy asombradas ante las grandes cantidades de desechos que se generaban diariamente en nuestro campus por lo que, entre nosotras surgió la idea de empezar a recolectar los residuos orgánicos para diseñar un nuevo material cuyo uso no tuviera un impacto negativo tan grande para el medio ambiente y lo empezamos a trabajar como parte de un proyecto de una de las asignaturas que cursábamos en nuestro último año de carrera, así fue como surgió Kuii”.

El camino de Kuii, como el de muchos otros emprendimientos, no ha sido lineal desde los inicios de su desarrollo en un laboratorio universitario hasta su posterior constitución como empresa. Desde entonces la inspiración de Claudia y el resto del equipo de Kuii ha sido desarrollar y ofrecer una alternativa innovadora en materiales ecológicos y sustentables cuyo valor agregado es precisamente su baja huella ecológica. A partir de esto, ha logrado una profunda concientización en las personas acerca de las alternativas de materiales existentes además del impulso a los programas de separación adecuada de residuos de pequeñas empresas locales de jugos, quienes son sus principales proveedores de materia prima.

Además, una gran motivación de Kuii ha sido su gran contribución a la educación ambiental de sus consumidores, ya que los ha conducido a que se cuestionen de dónde vienen realmente los productos que utilizan diariamente para con ello, ser más consciente de su uso y que puedan ser capaces de generar hábitos más sustentables.

Overall impact

Kuii's first great impact is the satisfaction of each of its customers by acquiring a 100% biodegradable material that was created in harmony with the environment and that will allow them to develop a vast number of designs and applications.

Likewise, one of the short-term effects that this innovation has brought is the fact of having a local supply chain. Fruit waste, especially from citric fruits, is the main input to make the manufacture of this biomaterial possible. This waste is obtained from juice small businesses, coffee shops and restaurants located in Puebla city, which have serious difficulties in its properly disposing. Sometimes, they have any other option than leaving their waste on the streets since it is not profitable for them to hire a garbage collection service.

Therefore, Kuii has generated synergies with these small companies by giving a second use to organic waste through the production of a biomaterial and at the same time allowing to have a cleaner city while achieving the development of environmental awareness within the community.

On the other hand, one of the long-term effects Kuii has generated is its transcendence on a national and international level since there are more design companies and educational institutions that have become interested in working with this biomaterial thanks to the great versatility it offers for different uses.

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El primer gran impacto de Kuii es la satisfacción de cada uno de sus clientes al estar adquiriendo un material 100% biodegradable que fue creado en armonía con el medio ambiente y que les permitirá una infinidad de diseños y aplicaciones.

Así mismo, uno de los efectos que esta innovación ha tenido a corto plazo ha sido el contar con una cadena de abastecimiento local. Los residuos de frutas, en especial los cítricos, constituyen el principal insumo para hacer posible que Kuii fabrique este biomaterial. Estos residuos son obtenidos de pequeños negocios de jugos, cafeterías y restaurantes de la ciudad de Puebla, los cuales presentan serias dificultades para hacer una correcta disposición de los mismos. En ocasiones, estos se ven obligados a dejar sus residuos en las calles de la ciudad ya que no les resulta rentable pagar a una empresa para su posterior recolección.

Ante esto, Kuii ha logrado generar sinergias con estas pequeñas empresas al lograr dar un segundo uso a estos desechos orgánicos mediante la producción de un biomaterial al mismo tiempo que permite tener una ciudad más limpia y logra el desarrollo de una consciencia ambiental dentro de la comunidad.

Por otro lado, dentro de los efectos que Kuii ha tenido en el largo plazo ha sido su trascendencia a nivel nacional e internacional ya que cada vez hay más empresas e instituciones educativas de diseño que se han interesado por trabajar con este biomaterial gracias a la gran versatilidad que ofrece para distintos usos.

Business benefit

Kuii's technological innovation has allowed it to participate in various forums and contests inside and outside of Mexico, in which has won economic funds that have allowed to set up its production facilities. Among these, Kuii has participated on business incubators located in Puebla city, Youth Organization Forum & Beijing Sister City Youth Camp, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 2016 Bootcamp, Bi National Innovation Sustainability Challenge, Socialab and Cleantech Challenge.

Also, Kuii is part of Material District catalog, a Dutch material platform, through which it has been contacted by companies from various parts of the world such as Mazda, Adidas and Louis Vuitton. Similarly, universities such as Tecnológico de Monterrey and Universidad Iberoamericana have included Kuii as part of the materials to be worked on in subjects belonging to Industrial and Textile Design courses.

Kuii currently has a network of 8 indirect collaborators to make possible the production of laminated biomaterial plates whose design can be customized considering the costumer´s needs of size and thickness.

The current situation of SARS-COV-2 pandemic has not been an impediment to continue with Kuii's operations, however, it has provided the opportunity to rethink its business and innovation strategy. Claudia shares with us: "we are currently researching and developing some tests to improve certain attributes of our biomaterial, this will allow it to be introduced in new applications, reduce costs and make it more accessible to more people."

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La innovación tecnológica de Kuii le ha permitido participar en diversos foros y concursos dentro y fuera de México de entre los cuales ha resultado ganador de fondos económicos que le han permitido montar sus instalaciones de producción. Entre estos se puede destacar su participación en incubadoras de empresas en la ciudad de Puebla, el Youth Organization Forum & Beijing Sister City Youth Camp en China; el Bootcamp 2016 realizado por el Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), el Bi National Innovation Sustainability Challenge, Socialab y Cleantech Challenge.

Así mismo, Kui ha logrado ingresar al catálogo de Material District, una plataforma de materiales holandesa, a través de la cual ha sido contactada por empresas de varias partes del mundo como Mazda, Adidas y Louis Vuitton. De igual manera, universidades como el Tecnológico de Monterrey y la Universidad Iberoamericana han incluido a Kuii como parte de los materiales a trabajar en asignaturas pertenecientes a las carreras de Licenciaturas de Diseño Industrial y Diseño Textil.

Actualmente Kuii cuenta con una red de 8 colaboradores indirectos para hacer posible la producción de placas laminadas de este biomaterial cuyo diseño puede ser customizado tomando en cuenta las necesidades de tamaño y grosor del cliente.

La situación actual de la pandemia por SARS-COV-2 no ha sido un impedimento para continuar con las operaciones de Kuii, no obstante, ha brindado la oportunidad para replantear su estrategia de negocio e innovación. Claudia nos comparte: “actualmente nos encontramos investigando y desarrollando pruebas para mejorar ciertos atributos de nuestro biomaterial, lo cual le permitirá ser introducido en nuevas aplicaciones, reducir costos y volverlo más accesible para más personas”.

Social and environmental benefit

Since its creation, Kuii has managed to impact around five thousand people by transmitting the importance of responsible consumption in harmony with the planet through an honest relationship from suppliers to final consumers.

In addition to the actions mentioned before, related to the environment and communities, Kuii has promoted some programs focused on generating spaces for a sustainable commerce, such as: circular fashion bazaars, book exchanges and product design workshops in which Kuii products are used. Through these initiatives, it has been possible to transmit Kuii´s vision of giving a second chance to things that are consumed but also, these has brought this biomaterial closer to society to continue reinforcing environmental education and a paradigm shift in people.

Finally, Claudia shares with us: “in the future, I would like to see Kuii everywhere; considering that raw material can be elsewhere, the process can be replicated in other places to reduce the environmental impact of sending Kuii products from Puebla City to the rest of the world which would also allow integration of diverse communities for providing them an alternative source of income”.

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Since its creation, Kuii has managed to impact around five thousand people by transmitting the importance of responsible consumption in harmony with the planet through an honest relationship from suppliers to final consumers.

In addition to the actions mentioned before, related to the environment and communities, Kuii has promoted some programs focused on generating spaces for a sustainable commerce, such as: circular fashion bazaars, book exchanges and product design workshops in which Kuii products are used. Through these initiatives, it has been possible to transmit Kuii´s vision of giving a second chance to things that are consumed but also, these has brought this biomaterial closer to society to continue reinforcing environmental education and a paradigm shift in people.

Finally, Claudia shares with us: “in the future, I would like to see Kuii everywhere; considering that raw material can be elsewhere, the process can be replicated in other places to reduce the environmental impact of sending Kuii products from Puebla City to the rest of the world which would also allow integration of diverse communities for providing them an alternative source of income”.

Interview

Claudia Coeto, Founder

Photo of interviewee

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KUII

KUII

MX

Business Website: https://www.kuii.com.mx/

Year Founded: 2015

Number of Employees: 2 to 10

Kuii produces sustainable and biodegradable materials from fruit waste, creating innovative solutions that help improve the environment.