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MEXICO - Green Economy

Eduardo Bustamente

CEO, Biobox


Eduardo Bustamante is an entrepreneur and specialist in high-impact sustainable projects. He has a degree in international business from UDLAP. Bustamante is founding partner, CEO, and a member of the board of shareholders of Innovation Box Group. He raised more than MXN100 million for the Biobox project and has several recognitions from ONU, Ted Talk, Banorte, and NewCo. He has also participated in various acceleration programs including BBVA, Momentum New Ventures, Endeavor, and Plastic Solvers.

"One of our features is that we have our own hardware and software, which allows us to adapt to any market and trademark."
Biobox is reinventing the wheel with its innovative recycling machines to offer rewards for recycling via partnerships with over 2,000 partners.
What is Biobox’s business model?

There are four key factors about Biobox’s operations: the environment, the government, the community, and the private initiative. The environment is on the losing side, and it is up to us to look after it. Biobox uses a solid business model for Latin America with this technology, known as “reverse vending machines.” We try to raise awareness among our customers and the community that each bottle, envelope, or container in their hands is worth money. These machines have been operational for many years now, mostly in Nordic countries in Europe, where the business model of these machines was a financial subject. In these countries, reverse vending machines work well as it helps you get back up to 80% of the taxes you pay for PET; however, having this technology in Latin America was impossible because there was no such a tax here. What we did was a reinvention. We made sure the business model was not based mainly on the waste we received due to the inexistent tax, and it could not be based only on recycling—at least not in the first stage. The coming years will be more important in terms of the amount of waste we get. Right now, we based our model on marketing where we can have brands advertising and involving themselves in the initiative. This way the brand can also participate by rewarding the action of recycling.

What are your expansion plans in Mexico and Latin America?

One of our features is that we have our own hardware and software, which allows us to adapt to any market and trademark. No matter the challenge wherever we go, we can make it through just by owning the technology, both hardware and software. Our goal is to be in 17 countries in Latin America, and we have an agreement to be in Spain and grow a team from there. Today, we are in discussions with the National Football League (NFL) to deploy machines in the US. We are also in talks with the Mexican Football Federation about doing something with the league here as well. There are growth plans for both Mexico and other parts of the world, so we can raise awareness everywhere. With such partners, we can achieve many things and make a real change. These last two years have been difficult, and we had to watch our cash flow carefully. We only recently revived our stalled plans. There are now also new Biobox models to gather more solid recyclable waste. We have solid synergy between the recycling classes, major brands, and entrepreneurs. It is not only about working with large corporations, but also having the opportunity to make real changes if we work together. For 2023, we are already working on agreements for other countries such as Chile, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Colombia, and Canada.

How are you updating the model that Biobox uses?

Each Biobox machine is connected to the internet, which allows us to monitor them from an office. One of the changes we will do this year is to make every machine digital, so they will stop using printed advertisement on the sides. Even though a major part of what we print is on recycled paper, this is a positive development. Users have to download an app called Biobox Innovation, and the machine will have a touch screen, with a QR code to scan. We will also know more about the person recycling, and we can reward them according to what they use or their user profile. In this way, we can be disruptive about the kind of rewards we provide; for example, users can top up their phones, pay for services such as electricity, water, gas, or other services like Spotify, Netflix, and so on. We have more than 2,000 agreements and partnerships with companies where users can also receive coupons and other benefits in return for recycling.



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