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Meet the Banco Popular Big Idea Challenge Finalists: CMTAS Yauco

CMTAS Yauco, a Banco Popular Big Idea Challenge Finalist, is a nonprofit organization in the prototype stage, headquartered in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and led by Pablo E Guzmán López.

The Problem

Many rural communities in Puerto Rico live far from the island’s central sewage system and electricity grid. As a result, these areas are polluted by waste, and electricity outages are common. When sewage backs up or reaches sub-terrain water sources, water contamination can lead to diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, and others within the population. Meanwhile, fertilizer is underused, so the cost-efficiency of island farming lags behind the 50 states and other Latin American countries.

The Solution

To address these issues, CMTAS Yauco installs anaerobic biodigesters—airtight tanks with organic substrates that digest organic waste materials and efficiently produce biogas and organic fertilizer. In turn, the biogas generates renewable energy, and the organic fertilizers can be used to grow crops.

CMTAS Yauco tailors each biodigester to meet the needs of different communities. Today, the organization is working on projects in Guanica, Yauco, and Vieques. In Guanica, a coastal community, the biodigester will capture fishing waste. In Yauco, the biodigester will produce gas for stoves and fertilizer to nourish coffee plants. And in Vieques, it will use waste from 15 homes to produce organic fertilizer and create energy for the community. At the same time, these biodigesters prevent contaminated waters from reaching the bioluminescent bay, which is the economic motor of the island.

CMTAS Yauco also teaches workshops around technology, conservation, and renewable energy. Some of these workshops take place at a local farm, where families can see the waste recycling process come together—from the cows to nutrient-rich soil and healthy crops.

Market Opportunity

  • Santo Domingo residents burn biomass (trees) to heat their stoves because gas is unavailable. This is unsustainable because burning wood leads to deforestation, is expensive, and is often a worse pollutant than coal. Biogas is a great alternative.
  • Over the next three years, demand for fertilizer and biogas is projected to grow by 8.5 percent annually.
  • Communities lack organic waste management, causing health and quality of life issues.

Organization Highlights

  • Received grant funding from the Puerto Rico Community Foundation
  • Hosted a composting event with la Escuela Agroconservacionista de CMTAS en el Barrio Quebradas de Yauco

Existing Partnerships

CMTAS Yauco currently partners with six organizations:

  • Asociación de Pescadores del Bo. Salinas
  • Guánica; Incubadora Bieké, Inc.
  • Agricultores Finca Don Pablo, Inc.
  • Hispanic Federation
  • Politechnical University in Nicaragua
  • University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus

Organization Goals

CMTAS Yauco seeks to achieve the following goals:

  • Install one biodigester for each community in Guanica, Yauco, and Vieques
  • Build a stronger public relations presence
  • Expand biogas production capacity
  • Serve as a knowledge technology transfer for schools, farmers, agronomists and scientists interested in the anaerobic fermentation of biomass.

Partnership Goals

To reach the organization goals mentioned above, CMTAS Yauco seeks partnerships to:

  • Provide funding and grants for the construction of biodigesters
  • Create a business plan for long-term stability and operations, with particular attention on sharing biodigester work with others in the Caribbean
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