30 million tires in Mexico are discarded per year and this volume is expected to grow to 50 million by 2020. But lucky for us there is an environmentally positive solution! The team from HM Energy found and developed a process to convert those pollutant waste tires into valuable commodities like cleaner diesel fuel and carbon black char. They have been chosen as one of the Accelerate finalists and will be in Geneva during the Accelerate 2030 SDG week. We had the opportunity to speak with Israel Magana about his future goals and journey within HM Energy. 

The beginning

We have a small lab with three people in Monterrey who are scientists and work in terms of innovation to see what kind of possibilities there are to convert waste into raw materials. By asking ourselves in what ways we could convert industrial output into raw material usable by other industries, we came across waste tires. This issue is out of control. The volume of tires that are globally being thrown away is astonishing. Worldwide, 1.35 Billion scrap tires are generated but only nine per cent 9% of them are being recycled. Basically  91% of them are just lying around, dumped on landfills or in some cases burnt by cement companies, which is very bad for the environment due to the toxic gasses. We looked into the issue and discovered we could convert the waste material into three different products: low carbon emitting diesel substitute (cleaner form of diesel), carbon black char and steel of tire. Some of the products can even be sold back to the tire production industry and therefore creating a sustainable cycle by contributing to the circular economy.  We started our project by building a pilot plant. Our two reactors now have the capacity to convert 375.000 tires a year into these three products.

Challenges

Of course there were challenges along the way. The permit application process to be able to start with the hydro carbon process pilot plant turned out to be long and bureaucratic. Getting funding to scale the production as soon as possible is difficult as well. We have no more time to lose in solving this waste issue, but also to tackle the climate change issues that comes a long with this waste stream. Our company is based on constant innovation, however, innovation doesn’t always feel like a milestone. You do little steps every day and then look back after 6 months, realizing the amazing achievements and difference you have made. At the moment our competition are not really waste recycling companies, but traditional non-green product producing ones such as the conventional fuel industry. I would say that our biggest challenge is our non-stop production. Our raw material plant has to produce 24/7, which is quite a challenge for a small company as ours, but we are up for it! We are super proud of the team of people we have put together. They are very passionate about the process and have a strong interest in clean energy. Most of all: they are always willing to go the extra mile which I think is the reason we can differentiate from others who are doing similar things in terms of recycling. To date 50,000 tires have been converted to more than 190,000 litres of diesel substitute.

Scaling up

We are planning to scale in Mexico at the moment, our two main goals to have a bigger impact are to shift the recycling rate in Mexico from 9 to 22 % and produce clean and affordable energy for everyone, the Seventh Sustainable Development Goal set by the UN. We are serious about energy cleaning.

We want to achieve 15 million litres of green fuel a year and avoid 38.000 ton of CO2 equivalent emissions every year. Right now we are one tenth of that, but we are planning to get to the next level with 10 ten more plants. Our project is scalable to other countries but it depends on finding the right partners. We believe that by structuring this project correctly, we should be able to get the funding we are looking for. We are very much looking forward to the Accelerate week! We are hoping it will help us with structuring our growth plan, and give us a chance to meet other entrepreneurs that face the same issues and challenges and hopefully get in touch with investment funds that want to put capital into a venture that is green and very scalable.

This article is one in a series in which we get to know the International Finalists of our Accelerate2030 program a little bit better. Accelerate2030 is a 9-month program co-initiated by Impact Hub Geneva and the UNDP with a mission to scale the impact of ventures that contribute towards the Sustainable Development Goals internationally. All nine finalists will be present at the Impact Hub Geneva from the 6th until the 13th of October during the Scaling week.

marlou