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Circular Economy of Coffee and Banana

The promotion of the Circular Economy from the use of agricultural by-products such as coffee or banana, within the post-conflict framework in Colombia, has been the theme chosen by the student of the Master's in Sustainability, Felipe Murillo, who has carried out in the framework of the AQUARISC Project and coordinated by the UNESCO Sustainability Chair.

In the absence of a circular economy model for rural communities affected by the armed conflict in Colombia, the Master project "Promotion of the Circular Economy based on the use of agricultural by-products in the post-conflict framework in Colombia" aims to articulate sustainable activities that promote human, economic and environmental development.

The project has been prepared by the environmental and sanitary engineer Felipe Murillo Arias, and directed by Dr. Jordi Morató i Farreras, coordinator of the UNESCO Chair on Sustainability. The project has been developed in El Castillo (Meta) and in Cajibio (Cauca), based on two model companies.

In El Castillo, the Asodeleite microenterprise (Mussa), made up of post-conflict people in charge of the generation of multiple products based on bananas, although banana liqueur and tortillas are specially made. In the current scenario, the consumption of water for the production of these products is relatively acceptable, but if production continues to increase and there is no control measure, the levels established by the Colombian program for 2030 can be exceeded. Therefore, it is considered indispensable to implement improvement measures within the production chain with the use of a circular economy model that involves the use of by-products and appropriate technologies to mitigate the undue use of water resources.

In Cajibio the work has been developed within the framework of the AQUARISC Project, financed by the General System of Royalties (CTI) with the Technology & Innovation Park Tecnicafé, and in collaboration with the company SUPRACAFE.

The Coffee Technology Park has become a management platform for innovation, specializing in adding value to the sector through technological surveillance, competitive intelligence and knowledge management in a collaborative model. The fundamental objective is to promote entrepreneurship, innovation and technology transfer and go towards the creation of a social and productive cluster in the region.

Cauca is today the fourth producer in Colombia of coffee. Together with Huila and Nariño they form a new coffee axis in the south, which in hectares and production has long exceeded the traditional Colombian coffee zone. Cauca has 32 producing municipalities, more than 92,500 hectares under cultivation, 92,134 coffee growers, a production of 100 million kilos and a harvest value of $ 560,000 million. It is in fact, the smallest department in the country with an average of less than one hectare per coffee grower.

In the project presented by Felipe Murillo, the study of the circular economy (CE) has been developed from the by-products of the coffee process. In addition, the analysis of the CE will be complemented in collaboration with the UNESCO Chair on Sustainability of the UPC and the AQUARISC project, with the implementation of a natural treatment system for wastewater effluents from coffee washing. For this purpose, a pilot treatment plant will be moved from Spain, developed by the UPC in the REAGRITECH project, and will be adapted for the purification of coffee processing waters.

Taking advantage of the last visit of the Coordinator of the UNESCO Chair on Sustainability and in the presence of the president of the RECNET network, a collaboration agreement was signed for the transfer to TECNICAFE of the treatment plant developed by the UPC.

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