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Invest Puerto Rico partners with Newlab to turn waste and resources into new solutions and products

  • The solutions will test the potential of new technologies to create new local markets using waste and underutilized resources.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Invest Puerto Rico (InvestPR), the island’s business attraction organization, in strategic partnership with Newlab, a renowned center of invention based in Brooklyn, NY, will establish an innovative project to convert unmanaged or landfilled items, such as sargassum seaweed, plastics and tires, into new value-added products.

The island is grappling with an unprecedented waste crisis, with 29 operating landfills and more waste generated per capita than the US average. Invest Puerto Rico and Newlab are recruiting entrepreneurs and early-stage companies to pilot innovative waste conversion solutions. Through technology and collaboration, the partners will unlock the potential for renewable life cycles of materials, such as end-of-life tires, waste plastics and sargassum seaweed.

Sargassum is a seaweed whose excess accumulation in recent years is affecting the coastal ecosystems and communities of Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands, Mexico and Florida that has the potential to be converted into bio-based plastics, fibers and other materials.

Tires are a damaging waste stream in Puerto Rico, with up to 18,000 tires being disposed daily on the island. The project aims to transform discarded tires into valuable resources, reduce landfill waste and contribute to a circular economy. There are significant import and export constraints on the island for plastics. By harnessing advancements in recycling technologies and circular design principles, the partners seek to make plastic recycling viable in Puerto Rico to alleviate the plastic waste issue and reduce dependency on imports. Through research, stakeholder engagement and market analysis, Newlab is opening the door to new markets and contributing to a more sustainable Puerto Rico.

“Our partnership with Newlab represents a significant step forward in our efforts to promote sustainable economic development and innovation in Puerto Rico,” said Ella Woger-Nieves, InvestPR’s chief executive officer. “We believe that this collaboration will help to alleviate the island’s problem with waste management through innovative solutions, create new economic opportunities for local businesses, and serve as a model for other communities facing similar challenges. This initiative is definitely a game-changer for Puerto Rico.”

Newlab brings its extensive experience developing and scaling world-changing technologies to the partnership. They specialize in turning transformative ideas and technologies into real-world solutions for critical sustainability challenges across materials, energy, and mobility. Previous collaborations include working with Ford, Verizon, LG, Orsted, the New York City Economic Development Corporation, and Mercado Libre, among others, to develop breakthrough solutions for global challenges.

“The collaboration with Invest Puerto Rico is an exciting opportunity to demonstrate the power of innovation in finding solutions for common global problems such as waste management,” said Satish Rao, Newlab’s chief product officer. “We believe that by focusing on under-utilized resources such as sargassum and waste streams such as plastics and tires, we can make a meaningful impact on Puerto Rico’s waste crisis. We aim to develop practical and scalable solutions that turn these materials into valuable resources and help the island become a global leader in sustainable innovation.”

The initiative has so far included scoping and discovery research, convening stakeholders, pilot proposal gathering and evaluation, and partnership development. The effort has laid the groundwork for the execution of pilot projects, which are scheduled to be launched in Q4 of 2023 and Q1 of 2024, including evaluation and refinement of the developed solutions.



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