A small company’s day-to-day work can be overwhelming, due to worries about productivity, payroll, clients’ needs, purchase of supplies, and licenses. It’s no surprise that doing something for the environment is not necessarily the first priority for these companies’ managers, even though many wish to do so. They assume that environmental services are not a benefit, but instead an additional cost that cannot be dealt with. Besides, they think environmental services would benefit society, but not necessarily their business.
The Programa Federal de Producción Más Limpia en Argentina (Cleaner Production in Argentina Federal Program) found that this type of attitude was widespread when it launched its activities with IDB’s funding. The Program’s premise – led by the Ministry of the Environment – was that, through small business management changes and low-cost technological innovations, companies would be able to contribute to reducing environmental degradation. By reducing the use of raw materials and the generation of waste, companies can reduce costs, sell their products for higher prices, and access new markets without affecting productivity levels. Companies recognize the value of ecosystems and their services as health and environment are improved.
In order to demonstrate this, the Program asked for national and provincial teams’ to help with awareness and technical assistance campaigns, from which over 700 companies got to develop cleaner production schemes. With the help of co-financing from the Program, 400 of the companies took an additional step and developed specific investment plans in order to boost technological changes that have allowed them to become more sustainable and more financially sound enterprises. They are now convinced that investing in cleaner production is good business. Those best equipped to tell about this transformation are the entrepreneurs themselves; hear about their stories in the following videos.
The Cornejo family, owner of an artisan sweets company that is located in the province of Salta, tells us about how they installed roof insulation and solar water-heaters that have allowed them to reduce their energy consumption by 50%, including gas use. It would have either not been possible to take these measures or would have had to wait many years to do so without the program’s support.
Mr. Hector Zarif manages a family business in Villa Maria in the province of Jujuy, an environmentally sensitive zone with crystal clear waters. He has established a trout farm and smoked tilapia business where good water management in the breeding pools is critical. The company had been using firewood and poorly efficient electrical systems in the breeding pools, but Mr. Zarif has managed to eliminate the use of wood and reduce energy consumption, helping to preserve the environment, biodiversity and the natural beauty of the area.
At the foothill of the Andes, in the province of Mendoza, the Sottano brothers have operated a winery since the first vines were planted 12 years ago. Thanks to the Program’s support, their winery has implemented water use and recycling technologies that have resulted in an 80% reduction in use of cleaning chemicals, eliminating discharges of pollutants and the degradation of the environment nearby waterways, while generating considerable savings from reduced water and energy consumption.
Last, a small winery, owned by the Ramirez family and located in La Quebrada de las Conchas in the province of Salta, an isolated Andean mountainous and valley region, has been able to take advantage of the many sunny days through the installation of solar panels, water-heaters and generators. These investments offer sustained energy throughout the day, thus reducing the use of diesel and liquefied gas, which the company had totally depended on before. Not only has productivity improved, but also the family’s quality of life.
These four cases demonstrate that it is possible, through investments in cleaner production, to improve lives and economic conditions while caring for the environment. We would like to know of other cases, if you know of other experiences on Cleaner Production in the LAC region, share them with us!
If you are interested in Natural Capital and Biodiversity, follow us on Twitter @BIDecosistemas.