1. Startups

WasteX Wants to Divert Organic Waste into Biochar to Mitigate Climate Change

WasteX has raised $775K in pre-seed funding from Wavemaker Impact and Norinchukin Innovation Fund

A report states that globally as much as 3,5 billion tonnes of agricultural waste is thrown away, burned or sold at low prices. This waste can actually be processed into commodities that have economic value. WasteX tries to solve this problem with a new approach with biochar.

This startup, which was started by Pawel Kuznicki, is the first company under Wavemaker Impact (WMi), venture builder special impact courtesy of Wavemaker Partners. In a previous post, DailySocial.id wrote in detail about WMi.

Kuznicki's track record has held various positions, ranging from consultant, venture builder, to entrepreneurs. He joined WMi as a form of contribution to helping mitigate climate change.

To DailySocial.id, Kuznicki recounts the founding process WasteX with WMi takes quite a long time, but is comprehensive. They both first identified various problems and opportunities in Southeast Asia to look for one problem that could potentially have the biggest impact, both from a financial perspective and in reducing carbon emissions.

From several ideas collected, there is a common thread that can be drawn that there are untapped opportunities in the value chain (value chain) agricultural industrial processing, from the upstream side (farmers/breeders) and downstream (agricultural product processing industry).

“This is where the idea to establish WasteX was born. We try to identify how WasteX can create great added value for agricultural and livestock producers in the form of operational, economic (revenue) and environmental benefits (helping mitigate climate change). "The answer is to provide an integrated solution for processing agricultural waste into biochar," he said.

What is biochar

Biochar is a carbon-rich solid material resulting from the conversion of organic waste (agricultural biomass) through incomplete combustion or limited oxygen supply (pyrolysis). It looks like charcoal, but has many uses and can store carbon safely (>70% carbon after pyrolysis).

Biochar is not a fertilizer, but functions as a soil conditioner. The potential for using biochar is very large considering that the raw materials are very abundant, such as coconut shells, rice husks, cocoa pod skins, palm kernel shells, corn cobs, and other similar organic materials.

There are three benefits of using biochar:

  1. Improved soil quality: when added to soil it can increase soil pH, water content and nutrient retention; can increase crop yields by 10%-20%;
  2. Animal feed supplements: when added to animal feed can improve animal health, feed efficiency and livestock pen climate;
  3. Cement additives: added to cement to increase compressive strength, thermal insulation properties, and setting time when used in concrete.

Apart from WasteX, other startups, namely Neutura also playing with producing biochar as the end result of waste management.

WasteX business model

Of the myriad potentials offered by biochar, so far its implementation in the field is still minimal due to the high price of equipment and the risks of applying biochar. Breeders/farmers need to invest large amounts of money, and sources of high-quality biomass are limited. General information about biochar and its benefits is also lacking.

WasteX positions itself as a provider of comprehensive biochar solutions, starting with small-scale modular equipment that can convert any biomass into biochar. Users can use the biochar or sell it to other customers.

As well as, providing incentives carbon credits to agricultural producers (clients). In this case, WasteX facilitates the offering/selling of carbon credits to buyers/or investors.

WasteX / WasteX biochar machine

WasteX's target users are quite broad, including: food crop farmers, poultry farmers, independent milling factories, integrated agricultural companies, fertilizer producers, construction materials companies, water filtration and waste management.

The biochar tool produced by WasteX is said to be user friendly because it is automated. Using the WasteX app, users can log their biochar production and receive specific recommendations on how to use the biochar.

WasteX sells the tool for $4.950, a figure it says is competitively priced. This is because the net profit for users is estimated to reach double the investment value in one year.

"Currently we are working with local manufacturers in the Philippines and Indonesia to produce biochar producing machines, that way we can minimize costs overhead and more responsive to local market demand in both the Philippines and Indonesia.”

According to him, there are several added values ​​provided by WasteX, namely:

  • Utilizing agricultural/livestock biomass waste
  • Save production/operational costs (example: fertilizer and litter media or bedding for livestock)
  • Increase income from better production and operational results (example: higher crop yields or lower livestock mortality rates)
  • Additional revenue through carbon credit incentives
  • Utilization of waste heat from carbonizer (biochar producing machine).

More Coverage:

As a company that focuses on climate change mitigation, the following solutions that WasteX offers to agricultural producers/actors can provide broad environmental impacts as well as economic benefits:

  • Every ton of biochar produced is equivalent to a carbon reduction of 1.5 tons of CO2 (net)
  • One carbonizer unit can produce up to 100 tons of biochar per year or the equivalent of reducing 150 tons of CO2 equivalent. This tool is suitable for use on medium/large scale farms or small scale mills.
  • Guaranteed $50 carbon credit to clients for every ton of biochar produced and applied, or the equivalent of $5,000 per unit of equipment per year.
  • Apart from the economic benefits of carbon credits, the use of biochar in the agricultural and livestock sectors also provides operational benefits, including increasing crop yields (20-50%), saving fertilizer use (up to 40%), reducing livestock mortality (up to 25%) , and others.

Investor ranks

Sebagai portfolio under WMi, WasteX has secured funding of $525 thousand. Then, the next raise was obtained from the Norinchukin Innovation Fund of $250 thousand in March 2023. Norichukin is a CVC owned by The Norinchukin Bank, one of the largest Japanese agricultural banks in the world.

Since its founding, headquartered in Singapore, the company has launched trials with producers, farms and agricultural technology platforms in the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand in the areas of rice, corn, sugar cane, poultry, cassava and cocoa milling. Starting in 2024, the company plans to build the first large-scale biochar facility with a corn factory in Indonesia.

WasteX tool development has now entered version 2.2, claimed to have the most optimal performance and price on the market carbonizer (biochar producing machine). Also, it is supported by supporting certificates.

"Our main focus now is to ensure the success of project implementation with each client so that the projects developed will be able to provide maximum benefits to all clients," he concluded.

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