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9 Chilean startups developing eco-friendly products

This post is also available in: esEspañol (Spanish)

Contxto – The environment comes to mind whenever I think about Chile. From the San Pedro de Atacama Desert, Patagonia, Easter Island, even to the rainy temperate rainforests of Valdivia; everything about this country exudes natural beauty. This is why I am so pleased to discuss these nine Chilean startups developing technology to conserve natural resources and care for the environment.

Mapuguaquen

Meaning “the sound of the earth” in Mapudungun, Mapuguaquen makes handmade clay audio speakers. Granted this technology uses metal, the company plants a tree for every speaker it sells. The German-Chilean company also employs local craftsmen who create the speaker on the potter’s wheel.

In the end, consumers have access to an eco-friendly high-tech device. Founded by Pablo Ocqueteau and Philine von Düszeln, the company won the Green Product Award at Newcomer Consumer Electronics competition in Berlin in 2015.

Sustentabla

With Chile’s 4,270-kilometer coastline, surfers can most definitely use Sustentabla’s services. The startup founded by Daniela Larrea is reportedly the first company to completely transform recycled plastics into surfboards. Sustentabla also works closely with local communities to educate them about waste management and coastal conservation.

Based on the company’s website, 55 percent of the plastic that the world generates end up in the ocean. Not only does the 13 million tons of waste harm maritime habitats, but human ones as well.

Algramo

Ever since José Manuel Moller founded Algramo in 2012, this startup has created its own product line of bulk items. These range from cleaning detergents, soaps, rice, oil, etc. What makes the business model unique, however, is that the company containers can be reused in high volume formats.

Algramo offers neighborhood pickup services but also refill machines in various communities. As of today, the company manages 1,600 of these stations, helping 220,000 clients. So far, it has prevented the generation of over 180,000 kilograms of waste.

Karün

We previously covered Karün’s US$2.8 million investment round, but the startup certainly deserves to be on this list. Karun collects used fishing nets along the Chilean coast, only to transform them into ecological sunglasses.

Thomas Kimber founded the company in 2012 after parting ways with his university studies to be closer to nature. Materials come from Chile but are refurbished in Italy. A pair sells for close to US$100.

BeeWaze

The technology behind Mónica Herrera’s enterprise is a bee colony monitoring system that runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Still developing, the startup wants to prevent further colonies from collapsing due to its non-invasive sensors, notification system, and alerts of potential plagues or pest outbreaks.

Bee populations across the world are dropping at drastic rates, although scientists aren’t exactly sure why. As researchers continue to find the root cause, BeeWaze could provide a wise solution for apiarists in keeping their hives healthy.

ReciclApp

With ReciclApp, users can literally advertise reusable material in their homes for “waste pickers” to collect. Let’s say, for example, that you just remodeled your roof and had unwanted shingles laying around. The startup founded by Cristian Lara lets users advertise these materials for pick-up.

This way, someone collects the shingles and uses them on their own accord, whether that be selling them to a recycling company or reusing the material themselves.

IMEKO

Who would have ever thought about turning cigarette butts into ecological products? Well, IMEKO did in 2018 among various co-founders, and good riddance. The ends of cigarettes are non-biodegradable and carry high levels of toxins.

Developers at Imeko created their own process to remove these chemicals to create cellulose acetate for its sustainable products. The website also provides a directory of places for people to donate their residue.

Mercado Circular

Mercado Circular assists companies by providing the most optimal routes to recycle centers. The platform ensures traceability and recovery of residual wastes. Users always know how much they recycled, where it went, and who transported it.

Considering that many stakeholders want their partners to comply with environmental regulations, this service helps partners rest assured. Thanks to the metrics, it is easy to verify if companies are actually reducing their carbon footprint, conserving water, and protecting resources.

NotCo

Perhaps the most high-profile startup on this list following Jeff Bezos’ investment, NotCo is making a huge impact in the vegan food industry. The startup has become well-known for its vegan meat and dairy substitutes, such as NotMayonnaise, NotMilk, NotYogurt, NotCheese, etc.

Regarding the tech factor, all of these innovations are thanks to NotCo’s “Giuseppe” machine learning algorithm. The software helps the company create its own versions of vegetarian alternatives. More veggie-friendly eating options would contribute to fewer carbon emissions from the meat industries, less water used to feed livestock, not to mention more compassion for animals.

Conclusion

The majority of these startups have received support from Start-Up Chile. Most are still in the early stages of development, meaning these companies aren’t household names yet. Nonetheless, they all have very practical product proposals that could seriously contribute to conservation efforts. Hopefully, we will be seeing more of these startups on the market someday.  

-JA

Jacob Atkins
Jacob Atkins is a journalist specializing in Latin America. He studied journalism and international relations at American University in Washington, D.C. and has previously reported from Chile, Ecuador, Haiti and Mexico. When he isn't writing he's most likely hiking or drawing.

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