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Winner Spotlight: Recycled Debris for Adaptation to Climate Change


The 2014 Climate CoLab Judge’s Choice Winner title in the Waste Management contest went to REACC (Recycled Debris for Adaptation to Climate Change), a model developed by marine biologist and environmentalist Victor Blanco.

The proposal provides a management plan to reduce and recycle debris from cement production, an activity with high greenhouse gas emissions. Victor and his team‘s business model aims to offer customers both a drop-off site and management service for debris produced after a natural disaster event or normal construction practices. The debris would be reused and recycled as building material for adaptation and disaster recovery products, especially for the construction or re-construction of areas affected by natural disasters and conflict zones; thus, simultaneously producing housing infrastructure (instead of refugees camps) and providing economic development opportunities for affected communities.

Here’s more from Victor:

What inspired you to submit a proposal to the Climate CoLab?

We have been inspired for a number of years and finally dared ourselves to put our idea in front of a global community. We went through the many proposals on the Climate CoLab platform and found that none were similar to ours in focus and scope; we were innovating in a disruptive way. Climate CoLab represented a great opportunity to jump into the international spotlight and help us find partners and funding.

We work as environmental engineers and marine biologists, consulting on environmental impact assessments in Venezuela, construction projects and environmental monitoring. Originally the idea was developed as a way to use recycle debris to build artificial reefs, and was named RAREEF 4CC; we were awarded in 2010 at the Ideas Contest with a special award in the Business Category.

However, Venezuela was, and is, going through a very difficult social, economic and political situation that made it challenging for us to find partners and funding. During those times, some global climate associated events occurred and made us rethink the proposal, and REACC (Recycled Debris for Adaptation to Climate Change) was born to deal with construction waste and climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The original REACC idea was entered in the Climate Colab contest but during all stages (semifinals and finals), with judges and fellows recommendations, the proposal grew to the one that was awarded with the judge’s choice award; we think we are where we need to be today and we will work hard to be where we need to be in the near future.

What was the best thing that came out of being a part of the Climate CoLab?

Connections with other participants, information gotten from other proposals and the Judges’ advice, which helped us evolve the idea. While our proposal was on the site, we were contacted by IDDI, an NGO from the Dominican Republic that supported our proposal and are are very interested in starting a pilot project with us.

Here’s a graphic we like to show on waste generation at various stages:

Source: UNEP/GRID-Arendal (2006). Vital waste graphics II. In collaboration with the Secretariat of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Wastes and their Disposal on the occasion of the 8th Conference of Parties held in Nairobi 27 November until 1 December, 2006.

And see Spotlights of Climate CoLab entries, Fellows and Advisors here: