eCO2Blocks is an online platform which takes part in the environmental friendly sector. It is a company focused on reclying so as C02 area. The startup develops and produce environmental friendly CO2 absorbent 100% recycled pavement blocks which are made by industrial waste, non-potable water and CO2 – eCO2Pavers. Currently, eCO2Blocks uses Portuguese steel slag from the National Steel Industry – MEGASA and aims to solve the problem of giving proper destination to industrial waste and reduce the CO2 emissions by replacing Portland cement-based/concrete pavers to eCO2Pavers in a industrial scale production. Thinking green and building the future with environmental friendly pavement blocks.
His commitment to changing the world through small projects and his ability to attract investment has led him to become part of the EIT Climate-KIC accelerator. This is a knowledge and innovation community promoted by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) with a programme focused on boosting initiatives to combat climate change. It currently operates in 24 countries with 28 offices across Europe, including the continent’s main capitals, such as Brussels, London, Paris and Berlin. José Luis Muñoz heads the Spanish office.
It’s founders, Vitor Sanchez, Pedro Humbert and Alan Cunha have explained to Startups Real the way ECO2BLOCKS works.
How did you meet and started working one another?
We are friends for a long time and have complementary skills. Vitor was invited to join the project to fill the business skills gap the project had.
What is the bassis in order to make up a team?
We have started thinking that trust was the most important aspect. However, within the time we realised that profile and technical skills are much more important.
How did you manage the fact of entering new people?
We are a small team of 3 ppl and we had only two changes in two years. It is complicated, but it is important to be clear and transparent during all the relationship in order to no create frustrated expectations. New people should have goals and deadlines, meanwhile they should be free to work in a way they few confortable of doing it.
What has the entreprenur experience bring you?
This experience demonstrated to me that this hiring process is much more related with skills and profile than trust. Moreover, the importance of clear, direct and objective communication, which can bring a lot of problems to the team and the work if not done properly.
Has it beeing worth it? Doy you all recommended?
I don’t have such thing. Instead of have this virtual appreciation, I prefer admire and be influenced by good small actions of entrepreneurs that I meet on my journey.
What are the main circular economy principles? How do you applied them?
At ECO2Blocks we have two main goals: do not use natural resources and be as much carbon negative as possible. These are the drivers that motivate our product development.
How did you know this was the way?
Everything started during my doctorate degree where we were analysing how to improve the mechanical resistance of a binder made by steel slag and CO2. I realised the existence of Carbicrete and the business idea came up of instead of producing a green cement, produce a green precast building material.
industry waste, non-drinking water and C02, How did you reach this mix?
The combination also came from the doctorate degree. However, with regular water. The wastewater utilization came out after participating at the Climate Launchpad program.
What are your new projects?
Today we are focused on two things. Do a pilot production to validate the technology in real environment and use flue gas instead of purified CO2.
What are the advantages of not using cement? which are the obstacles of this kind of industry?
After the water, concrete is the most consumed material in the world. Accounting 8% of global CO2 emissions. This carbon footprint is mainly due to the Portland cement use.
Is the construction sector in general aware of sustainability?
The construction industry is worried with sustainability and circular economy. However, they still traditional (not so open for innovation) and selecting the materials based only on price.
Besides a proposal like yours, which relies on recycled materials, what other measures would be necessary?
ECO2Blocks will not save the world. We are one solution that, together with others, can tackle the CO2 problem. We are replacing only precast building materials however, reducing the carbon footprint at different stages such as Portland cement manufacturing would provide a great impact as well.
What is your current business model? What customers do you deal with, what do you value most…
Currently, we are focusing on validate our solution with one steel industry. Afterwards, the goal is to replicate it for more steelmakers worldwide.
As a company, how do you defend and apply your values of respect for life or ethical dignity and transparency?
We still very small but we try to have this aspect inside our culture and in all our activities.
You want to be an international reference in your niche. How is internationalization taking place?
Right now we are developing the technology in Portugal and Brazil. We are designing a plan to go internation after validating our first production plant.
How has Climate-KIC helped you in this and other aspects?
Climate KIC has supported us with strategic advices in all areas.
How do you feel about your landing in Spain?
It was great coming to Spain and joining the program because we could work with people with different background and the benefits of this exchange were great.
What recommendations would you make to those who are starting a business related to climate change, sustainability, etc?
To think about the business since day 1. The sustainability aspects will not make the business successful by theirselves.
And how did your beginnings go? Where did you get your funding?
We still on the beginning. We started as a spin off from the university and are improving the business model constantly. All funds that we have are personal and from prizes or programs.
Where are you now in this regard?
We are closing the pilot production agreement.
What are your goals, hopes, for 2020?
In 2020 we want to finish the pilot production and start the tests with flue gas use. At the end of the year we intend to have a feasibility plan for industrialization and commercialization.