❮ Back to Insights

Turning Waste into Wealth: Pioneering Puerto Rico’s Circular Economy with InvestPR and Newlab 

April 12, 2024
Sway founders Matt Mayes and Julia Marsh show off their product, a seaweed-based, rapidly compostable replacement for plastic. Photo by Alex Krowiak
Sway founders Matt Mayes and Julia Marsh show off their product, a seaweed-based, rapidly compostable replacement for plastic. Photo by Alex Krowiak

In a recent webinar, Turning Waste into Wealth: Driving Innovation in Puerto Rico’s Circular Economy, leaders from Invest Puerto Rico (InvestPR) and Newlab unveiled a transformative vision for sustainability and economic growth in Puerto Rico. This online gathering marked a significant milestone in the collaborative journey towards a greener, more prosperous future for the island, showcasing innovative solutions to turn waste into invaluable resources. 

The webinar highlighted the Puerto Rico Waste to X project, a beacon of hope and innovation for not only Puerto Rico but also for island communities across the globe. This initiative seeks to transform waste management, highlighting its potential to drive economic growth and serve as a global model for sustainability. 

The Challenge of Waste in Puerto Rico… and the opportunities therein 

Puerto Rico is at a critical juncture, facing a waste management crisis with its 29 operating landfills and a per capita waste generation surpassing the U.S. average. This situation poses significant environmental threats and underscores the urgent need for innovative solutions. InvestPR and Newlab are leading the charge by mobilizing entrepreneurs and early-stage companies to pioneer waste conversion technologies. This strategic partnership aims to harness the untapped potential of specific waste streams, turning them into catalysts for a circular economy. 

The initiative’s strategic focus areas include unlocking the future value chain of sargassum, discovering new applications for end-of-life tires, and identifying innovative uses for discarded plastics. By selecting a cohort of companies dedicated to developing technologies for waste conversion, Newlab and InvestPR are not only addressing the island’s waste crisis but are also creating pathways for economic development. This forward-thinking approach promises to generate new job opportunities, foster local businesses, and introduce new revenue streams, positioning Puerto Rico as a global leader in environmental innovation. 

Laying the Groundwork for a Circular Economy 

The collaboration between InvestPR and Newlab has already achieved significant milestones, including scoping and discovery research, stakeholder engagement, and the conceptualization of pilot projects. These efforts have set the stage for the implementation of early-stage initiatives, which will serve as proof of concept for the waste-to-x model in Puerto Rico. Scheduled to launch in the upcoming quarters, these pilots will evaluate and refine the developed solutions, demonstrating Puerto Rico’s capability to innovate in waste management and circular economy practices. 

Puerto Rico’s journey towards a circular economy is a testament to the power of collaboration and innovation in tackling some of the island’s most pressing challenges. By converting waste into resources, this initiative addresses the immediate needs of waste management and opens the door to a sustainable future powered by economic growth and environmental stewardship. 

With a clear focus on advancing waste-to-x technologies and leveraging the island’s unique position, Invest Puerto Rico and Newlab are creating a blueprint for sustainability that can inspire and be replicated by communities worldwide. This partnership underscores the belief that innovation and economic development go hand in hand, with Puerto Rico leading the way in demonstrating how environmental challenges can be transformed into opportunities for prosperity. 

Next Steps 

As we look to the future, the message is clear: “It’s not what’s next, it’s where,” and Puerto Rico is where waste transforms into wealth, where innovation meets sustainability, and where a brighter future is being built today. This initiative invites us to reimagine our approach to waste, viewing it not as an endpoint but as the beginning of a journey toward a circular economy. To learn more and be part of Puerto Rico’s circular economy transformation, please visit www.wastetoxstudiopr.com.

Any Questions?
Count on Invest Puerto Rico to help make your business endeavor in Puerto Rico a successful reality.