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Harmaan Madon and Matthew Jackson | Co-founders & Edmund Hillary Fellows | Alimentary Systems

Alimentary Systems: Creating Value from Waste

In recent years, there has been a noticeable surge in environmental awareness and a growing consensus on the importance of adopting sustainable practices. This change is not confined to any specific region but is a global phenomenon affecting various sectors, including the public, governmental, and corporate domains. The trend toward heightened environmental consciousness is now more prevalent than ever before.

Human waste management is one of those areas where innovative startups have come forward to contribute to safeguarding public health. The aim of these startups is to contribute towards disease prevention, environmental preservation, and improve quality of life.

Among these startups, Alimentary Systems is a pinnacle name that has a vision to solve one of the oldest and most challenging problems of human waste management. We had the opportunity to learn more about the decisive journey of Alimentary Systems in the realm of eco-friendly startups and the vision of Co-founders Harmaan Madon and Matthew Jackson.

Below are the excerpts from the interview:

Can you brief us about your company and its inception story?

We focus on solving the global problem of human waste management. Our company has developed a unique technology to convert human waste into a valuable fuel source. The company’s innovative approach combines crop residues, which are rich in carbon but lack nitrogen and water, with human fecal matter, which contains excess nitrogen and water, to create a gas mix suitable for fuel production. This technology aims to address environmental, economic, and social challenges associated with waste disposal.

It all started when Madon Applied Sciences LLP was founded in February 2017 to undertake waste-to-bioenergy conversion R&D in India.

How do you ensure your products/services are environmentally sustainable?

Nature has a voice on our board. If we don’t meet our impact metrics, dividends won’t be paid to investors. We use SCADA systems to capture data and measure our work against the UNSDGs and Planetary Boundaries.

How do you think the current environmental and regulatory landscape will affect your company’s growth?

We are actively engaged in high-level dialogues with government officials. Our participation extends to the most senior echelons of the government, where we are in regular contact with key decision-makers and policy architects. This engagement allows us to contribute to critical discussions and influence the policy direction for our sector. Our proactive involvement ensures our solutions align with government strategies, and our innovative proposals have the potential to redefine industry norms and expectations.

We are proposing a solution yet to be established in New Zealand, which challenges the status quo. Our technology suits stringent environmental controls and figures like James Shaw. We recently presented our ideas to James Shaw, Megan Woods, Ayesha Verrall, and Grant Robertson.

With potential Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanisms, our food exports, a major revenue source, might be at risk due to international standards and the disparity between New Zealand’s and European carbon pricing. In terms of water management, New Zealand faces challenges from long-standing underinvestment in water infrastructure, and while there’s no freshwater shortage, wastewater mismanagement remains a concern.

The recently launched Affordable Water Reform is a positive step, aiming for more effective water services management, though it also signals tighter regulations and standards. Pollution in water bodies further indicates the need for improved water management, with new guidelines potentially affecting businesses and councils. Lastly, the nation’s waste minimization strategies are currently lacking, with high per capita waste production and limited incentives for change, highlighting the need for more actionable policies and innovative solutions.

How do you measure the impact of your company’s eco-friendly initiatives?

Nature holds shares in our company and holds a board seat. We have a detailed framework to measure our impact on waste reduction and emissions reduction and impact on soil quality.

We partner with the Planetary Accounting Network to measure our standards against the Planetary Boundary Guidelines.

How does your company generate revenue while staying environmentally conscious, and what challenges have you faced in balancing profitability with sustainability?

We are Pre-Revenue. 1. Grant Funding US$2.78M 2. Seed Capital US$0.77M

The BRRP diverts organic waste from landfills to boost renewable energy by 400%, offering a green LPG alternative and cutting waste disposal costs by 50-80%. It recycles nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen into organic fertilizers, improving soil health and reducing fossil fuel-based imports. Leveraging the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism, the BRRP sells carbon credits, clean energy, and organic fertilizer, aiming for an 8-10-year ROI.

We have successfully generated income from grants and accelerators. We won the People’s Choice and Impact awards, which came with funding. Also, We were awarded impact funding from Akina.

We are being considered for Waste Mimisation Funding from the NZ Ministry of the Environment and have raised seed capital from impact investors.

Once proven, we will generate revenue from clean energy, gate fees for processing waste, gross emissions reduction carbon credits, and an organic fertilizer supplement to improve soil biodiversity.

The BRRP technology generates six ways to pay for itself within 8-10 years, compared to 30 years for last-generation bioenergy technology.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to start an eco-friendly business?

Identify Your “Why”: Understand why you want to start an eco-friendly business. This purpose will serve as your anchor during challenging times and inspire others to support your cause. That’s what keeps Matthew and Harmaan close during challenging times.

Find Value-Aligned Co-Founders: Partnering with individuals who share your passion and values can amplify your efforts and offer a balanced perspective. This alignment ensures that the company remains true to its eco-friendly mission as it grows.

Engage with an Impact Community: Join eco-friendly and entrepreneurial communities. These networks offer invaluable resources, insights, mentorship, and potential partnerships. They can provide the guidance and support needed to navigate the unique challenges of an eco-friendly business. Ministry of Awesome and the Edmund Hillary Fellowship have been invaluable along this journey.

Future-Proof Your Idea: Think long-term instead of focusing only on current trends. Design your business model and offerings to remain relevant and needed 15-25 years down the line. Addressing future challenges ensures the longevity and sustainability of your business. Transparency is Key: With growing skepticism around “greenwashing,” it’s vital to be transparent about your eco-friendly efforts. Regularly update your stakeholders about your sustainable practices, challenges, and milestones. Ensure you have a plan for using data; we will be partnering with the Open Earth Foundation and will use IPCC standards.

What are your long-term goals for your eco-friendly business, and how do you plan to achieve them?

Seeking $2M USD, we plan to upscale our modular technology from 1-tonne to 10-tonne capacity at a commercial site on Bell Island in Nelson. The system is designed to operate for five years, and we’ve already secured the necessary land, waste streams, and permits. Through BRRP.IO, we’re pioneering a new approach using an open Earth registry. This provides robust, data-backed evidence for significant emissions reductions, facilitating sustainable investments in waste-to-energy systems. Our aim is to convert a $125B waste emissions liability into renewable energy infrastructure.

Backed by an experienced manufacturing supply chain under the Edmund Hillary Fellowship and supported by Waste Minimization and Innovation Grants from the NZ Government, we are ideally positioned for the project’s next phase.