This company converts the leftover rice into a paper pulp similar to cardboard, with which it can produce packaging for food consumption and the storage of agricultural products.
"We have been working on the project for eight years, since we learned about the problem of rice straw from farmers," explains Fernando Segovia, one of the two entrepreneurs driving the project together with Ángel Genís.
The burning of rice straw is prohibited, although on some occasions it is allowed with a prior authorization from the Generalitat, and in most cases these remains end up buried, producing polluting emissions of methane gas that affect the quality of the water and land, they report from the company.
"What we are going to do is give value to that straw, at zero cost for the Administration and for the farmers," says Segovia.
China, Belgium or Italy are some of the countries in which this company has been working and studying the best way to convert rice straw into biodegradable packaging, a product that they have already approved and patented.
But in addition to having managed to devise a functional solution, Contrerina has also taken care to ensure that theirs is an economically feasible business, with a study by the University of Valencia that supports the viability of an industrial production of these containers.
"The best of all is that it is a competitive product in the market," says Segovia, since "the containers we produce have the same price as cardboard boxes."
The industrial project intends to start up next October, with the collection of rice straw with machinery from Belgium capable of working in humid soils, storage of the straw with measures to prevent self-combustion and a staff of fifty workers. .
"To remove the 50,000 tons of rice straw we would need 13 million euros, but we can also opt for the small option and withdraw 5,000 tons year by year, for which we would need an initial investment of 2 million", explains Segovia.
According to the businessman, the German bank AKF, which specializes in financing environmental projects, has already taken an interest in the project, although to get the financing they first need the Administration to guarantee the project.
Segovia informs that they have held meetings with the mayor of Valencia, Joan Ribó, the president of the Valencia Provincial Council, Jorge Rodríguez, and with the general directors of Medio Natural, Antoni Marzo and of Economy, Francisco Álvarez, “and they all liked it the project".
He assures that what they ask the Administration for their endorsement in a part of the project to be able to start with the extraction in October, and adds that the Generalitat has assured them that they will begin to call meetings with the institutions involved so that they can take relevant decisions.
The pollution generated by rice straw is a problem that affects farmers, fishermen, ecologists and "the whole of society, because waste management costs the Administration, both regional and European," adds Segovia.
"We want to provide an ecological solution to the problem and also generate fifty jobs, with decent and equal salaries," says Segovia.
According to the businessman, the packaging already has potential buyers in Italy, and they have also been interested in northern Europe, "where there is more environmental awareness."
La Albufera is “a jewel and belongs to everyone”, says the businessman, “and it is necessary that we all seek ecological and viable solutions that help us protect it” .Ecoportal.net