Young leaders

Each year, Bayer Young Environmental Envoys get the opportunity to present their projects, which vary from conceptual scientific research to totally practical, hands-on work. The most innovative, sustainable and easily replicable projects win Leadership Awards that include a seed-corn cash prize and development support from Bayer.

If you are interested in any of these projects, could help develop them, or would be interested in doing something similar where you are, please contact us through Facebook ( and we’ll put you in touch.


Wallace Chwala, from the University of Nairobi, Kenya, has developed a way of making compost in just 12 days, using his community’s organic waste. He sells the compost to local farmers, and teaches them about improving their soil. That’s three wins. The fourth? He runs water pipes through his compost pits to heat water for the community. And the fifth is that he provides jobs for local people, too. Now Wallace has a difficult choice – does he develop his project to become the Compost King of Nairobi? Or does he travel the country teaching communities how to do it on their own? Go, Wallace!

Cement from wood waste

Dream on? “No way,” says Kevin Lee from Singapore’s Temasek Polytechnic. He’s done it. Depending on what strength you need, he has worked out how you can reduce the cement, sand or gravel content in a cement mix, replacing them with different types of wood waste. As making cement is one of the largest sources of carbon dioxide, this could be a major contribution to climate-change mitigation, quite apart from providing a ready use for forest and horticultural waste. GREAT innovation, Kevin, this could be the beginning of a revolution.

Light-transmitting concrete

Soumyajit Paul, from SRM University, Kancheepuram, India, has found a way of transmitting light through concrete: embedded optical fibres in the concrete take in sunlight from outside and pass it into a building. This could be revolutionary for village and shantytown homes and large office buildings alike – reducing the need for electricity – as well as for road marking. It is not quite a commercial proposition yet, Soumyajit tells us, but he’s aiming to take his research forward.

Sustainable energy

Claudia Escobar of the University of Costa Rica is developing REALLY low-cost solar cells – allowing more people to access this renewable technology. She’s coating the surface of a titanium dioxide film with charge-transferring dye from fruit, flowers and microorganisms from species common in tropical regions. It’s all biocompatible, and costs a fraction of the solar cells made from silicon. Research is well advanced and she’ll start scaling the process up in 2014.

All you need is a tolerant mum

The trouble with empty toothpaste tubes is that they combine plastic with aluminium, so traditional recyclers don’t want them. But Felipe dos Santos Machado from Brazil’s Universidade Feevale has found a way of turning them into a material suitable for making furniture and play-ground equipment and even for building. It all started in 2010 with an experiment in his family kitchen, using his mum’s oven. It has grown a bit since then, and Felipe uses his engineering background to define manufacturing parameters, carry out strength and endurance testing and get quality certification. And now, he’s ready to scale up his activities – after all his raw materials are readily available everywhere!

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