Luis Orlando Castro
This profile was prepared when Luis Orlando Castro was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2001.
The New Idea
Luis Orlando Castro is turning the biodegradable components of trash from a source of contamination into a cheap and accessible resource. The technology he has invented converts organic waste into a highly effective fertilizer. He sees multiple ways that waste can translate into income-producing work for poor people and generate benefits to the land, and he is making the necessary connections among recyclers, waste-processing plants, government training institutes, farmers, buyers of farmers' produce, environmental restoration efforts, and municipal governments that control waste-disposal contracts. The municipal waste-disposal contracts are the fulcrum for spreading Luis Orlando's work. While they remain in the hands of landfill operators, they are an obstacle. But where town and city governments become convinced that Luis Orlando's approach is preferable to the status quo, the contracts open the door to profitable fertilizer production and many attendant employment and marketing opportunities. By demonstrating success at a pilot site and methodically documenting the success stories of the fertilizercalled Bioabono, abono being the Spanish word for fertilizerLuis Orlando has been poised to seize municipal contract opportunities when he has identified them, and is ready with a tested alternative as the World Health Organization (WHO) has called for landfills to be eliminated by 2005.