Photo of Walter Mata

Energy & sustainability

Walter Mata

Reuses waste for use as building materials to reduce the environmental impacts of the industry.

Year Honored

WAS Company

Latin America

Hails From

More than 20% of the world's population, around 1.8 billion people, do not have decent housing, according to the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat). In addition, the construction industry is responsible for more than 50% of the world's polluting emissions, according to the Mexican government's National Housing Commission. Building a home without contributing to the climate crisis is a challenge. 

Mexican innovator Walter Mata knows this well. His city, Monterrey, is highly industrial and has very poor air quality. It is the third most polluted city in Latin America for small particulate matter (PM10). Mata elaborates, "Before the pandemic, the second leading factor in deaths in my city was poor air quality. One of the main factors of pollution is the construction sector such as cement plants. For every ton of cement produced, 770 kilograms of CO2 are generated. A 50-story building uses 280,000 tons of cement. It would take 22 million trees to compensate for this building."

With the aim of improving air quality, mitigating the climate crisis, and reducing the impacts of the construction sector, Mata has created WAS Company. His start-up reuses plastic waste, mining waste and debris to give them a new life as building materials. For this eco-friendly creation, Mata has been named by MIT Technology Review in Spanish as one of the winners of Innovators Under 35 Latin America 2022. 

Mata's initiative makes it possible to build social housing, industrial buildings and other real estate thanks to its cement, bricks, and other materials that are lighter and cheaper than their conventional alternative. Along the way, WAS Company reuses discarded plastic to try to avoid that. As the United Nations predicts, by 2050 there will be more plastics than fish in the oceans. The start-up currently has construction projects such as a hotel and a soccer stadium. By recycling waste, the company alleviates the emerging problem of material shortages that has surfaced with the pandemic and the current rate of consumption. 

To keep up with the pace of orders, WAS Company is seeking financing to provide enough equipment to meet the growing demand for its materials. Mata says his ultimate goal with WAS Company is "to leave a better world for the next generation.