GreenHouse Holdings, Inc. (GreenHouse), a San Diego, California based integrated energy solutions provider and developer of eco-friendly infrastructure, announced today that it will begin operations immediately to implement plans to address environmental issues associated with the production of tequila in Jalisco, Guadalajara.
In a press conference held today with leaders of the tequila industry, the University of Guadalajara and [Mexican] local, state and federal officials, GreenHouse officials announced that they had formed a subsidiary, GreenHouse Soluciones, S.A. de C.V. (GHS). GHS has developed a suite of integrated solutions which will utilize the capacities of the agave plant for use in everything from composting, renewable energy production and recapturing clean water, to the development of commercial products such as fiberboard.
GHS also recently completed a land purchase in Jalisco and will begin construction in the Fall on a facility that will produce 30,000 tons annually of agave fiber into compost from the fibrous waste of tequila production, known as bagasse. The facility will employ over 70 local workers and provide compost to farmers and disposal services to distillers for half of the cost they pay today. This initial plant and future facilities will be extremely profitable while providing a valuable economic and environmental service to the region. GreenHouse projects that annual revenue in 2011 from the Mexico composting operations may be in excess of $2.2 million.
GHS’s plans for 2011 include the reprocessing of vinasse—another by-product of tequila production—to convert agave waste into clean energy by replacing the fuel oil that is currently used in the distillation process.
“There are significant opportunities to boost the local economy through job development, improve the environment and create a positive effect on the quality of the tequila produced in Jalisco,” said Congressman Gustavo Macias Zambrano. “I encourage the collaboration between GreenHouse and these agencies to develop a long-term, sustainable plan for the region.”
The tequila industry employs over 38,000 people in Jalisco, with hundreds of brands produced regionally. Market demand is strong; tequila production has doubled between 1995 and 2005. However, increased production brings both environmental challenges and opportunities.
For every liter of tequila bottled, the process generates approximately five kilograms of agave pulp (basasse) and 10 liters of liquid waste (vinasse). Currently, most of these by-products are discharged into landfills, therefore seeping into the rivers and water supply of the region.
“By working collaboratively with the University of Guadalajara, state and federal environmental agencies and the tequila industry, we have developed an integrated strategy to significantly reduce the agave waste stream to the landfills. This process will also improve water quality and ultimately help to sustain and grow the economy and quality of life for residents of the valley,” said Chris Ursitti, CEO of GreenHouse Holdings, Inc.
“I am very excited to partner with GreenHouse Soluciones and apply my studies in the field of agricultural science to this project,” said University of Guadalajara Professor Dr. Iniguez-Covaarrubias. “This plan will not only help improve the environment, but will also work with the tequila industry to produce high-quality, organic products that are much needed in this region.”
According to Dr. Iniguez-Covarrubias, the GHS composting facility will reduce 53,000 tons of waste that currently goes in to the landfills every year. His research shows that one liter of vinasse can be sprayed on the bagasse as it is being composted with no ill effects to the environment. Therefore, GreenHouse would be able to eliminate over seven million gallons of vinasse annually in this manner.