PRODUCING OXYGEN

Ecuador 2019 | GREEN ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

A holding dedicated to promoting ways of doing business that save the planet, SAMBITO seeks to develop a sustainable model for the whole country.

Gustavo Manrique Miranda
BIOGRAPHY
Gustavo Manrique Miranda founded SAMBITO in 2001 and has served as the company’s president since its foundation. Since 2010, he also presides over CORPEI and CIMA Cumbre Internacional del Medio Ambiente. Notably, he initiated the annual Latin American Green Awards. Gustavo graduated as agricultural engineer from EARTH University in Costa Rica and currently serves on the university’s board.

What are your thoughts on expanding environmentally friendly initiatives across the country?

We have to view nature as a global warehouse; every aspect of the modern world is, at some level, derived from the natural world. In the best-case scenario, the products we derive from nature end up in a legitimate landfill; however, in other cases these products and waste materials are dumped into the natural world. Thus, we have two problems: Mother Nature is slowly becoming emptier and the waste products from the global industrial economy are going straight back into the environment. The single-use bag ban is designed to create a balance between supply and demand while also protecting the natural world by requiring that these types of products are created using 70% recycled materials. These products are primarily ones not being used with foods and other consumables. However, we are developing the ability to utilize recycled materials in a host of products that have traditionally used totally fresh inputs. We seek to lower the total pressure being put on the natural world while supporting industrial and economic production. The bag ban is the first step in getting the city and the country to move in this direction—after Guayaquil, the country should follow. We want to be a sustainable model that the National Assembly can look to as they craft the national legislation. Within 36 months we can transform this area of the economy by phasing out plastic bags and utensils, straws, and styrofoam.

How does SAMBITO serve as a facilitator to players in the public and private spheres?

SAMBITO is a holding that is an ecosystem of interests dedicated to promoting ways of doing business that save the planet. In 20 years, we have completed 2,000 projects. We are strong in both the technical and commercial aspects of the industry, and our focus on the latter sets us apart from our competitors. Every year, we visit 2,000 companies, out of which 400 articulate an interest in our services and 100 sign contracts with us annually; thus, we sign a new contract around every three days. We operate across four business lines. The first line is our consultancy business. The Ecuadorian Constitution enumerates specific rights for the natural world, giving us a large umbrella of various businesses to consult on the regulatory requirements. Our second business line relates to everything that is voluntary; we have signed more than 50 contracts for carbon-neutral companies. We created the first and only platform that connects nature to lawyers, and we have supported the defense of numerous causes on a pro bono level. The third line of services relates to the support and development of the environmental industry. This is where our water company takes water from industrial waste, treats it, and returns it to the natural world. Fourth, we organize the Latin American Green Awards (LAGA), which provide an opportunity to spotlight the people taking action for the environment. The UN is the main strategic partner for this event, together with the municipality of Guayaquil. SAMBITO is the organizer of this event, and we exhibit, reward, and connect the best 500 projects from Latin America. In the latest edition, 2,733 projects were subscribed from 713 cities across 38 countries.

What other notable environment initiatives have you launched?

We are the executive director of the national recycling corporation of tires. For 2018, our target is to recycle 2.4 million tires. We can transform 60-70% of these materials into energy for the concrete and other industries. We also represent a US company called FMS, which creates products that allow industries using diesel fuel to reduce their CO2 emissions by 15%. We have another partnership with a German investment fund and are heavily involved in reforesting. This means we are in the business of producing oxygen.