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Leonardo Retto (Telite): Recycled and Energy-Producing Roofing

19:41 14 de November de 2022 Por Daniel Oiticica

Leonardo Retto, CEO & Founder, Telite

Founded in 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, where it maintains its parent company, Telite S.A. produces sustainable roofing from solid waste, as well as developing solar roofing sheets that produce energy. Now the company is coming to Ceará, confirming the state’s vocation for sustainable development. The company will be installed in the city of Quixadá and saw in Ceará an opportunity to expand its business, providing employment and income generation. Under construction, Telhas Telite is expected to start its operations in June 2023.

Why did you choose Ceará to build Telite’s new factory?
Our parent plant is in Rio de Janeiro since 2013, when the company was founded with investment funding. We received an invitation to set up in the state through the State Deputy Salmito Filho (PDT), who has a development project to attract companies from other states to Ceará, strengthening the generation of employment and income. Ceará was a strategic state, primarily because our sales receipts for the sustainable roofing itself are higher in the Northeast region. With the solar roofing tile, being in Ceará, which is almost on the corner nearest to Europe, we have companies from six countries with letters already signed with the intention of distributing our roofing sheets there. So, it also made perfect sense to have a plant logistically close to the route to Europe, as is the case in Ceará. We had access to all the necessary governmental bodies to issue licenses. The work was approved by the State Government, which came in with the warehouse, and we came in with the investment. Initially, our expectation is to buy the waste residues in Quixadá, involving more than 70 thousand people. Just to give you an idea, in Rio de Janeiro, the average amount received by the families that deliver the recyclable materials to us is around 356 Reals (about 67 dollars). This is a fantastic help to their budget.

In addition to providing extra income for families who recycle, the product is sustainable…
It is sustainable and provides income generation. We make the roofing with packaging that would otherwise go to the garbage. In addition to all this, we have linked solar energy into this project to generate solar energy from this sustainable product.

When will you start with the works for the opening of the company?
Work on the Quixadá warehouse is scheduled to begin at the end of October. We are a functioning company, with employees working on the waste part as we have a process for collection and separation of this waste to transform it into raw material and, finally, into roofing. This pre-operation is already in place in Ceará and soon we will start with the operation of buying waste from housewives and also from companies themselves. In this way, we have already started to make an impact not only with income, but also with the generation of employment. We will have even greater impact when we have the installation of the roofing tile, helping environmentally, as it is already influencing now when we take this material and transform it into a product. I believe that by mid-June 2023, the company will be fully up and running.

How does the ecological roofing sheet work?
One thing we have always done is to buy recyclable raw material in the traditional market to transform it into roofing. So, we always had a product that was sustainable, recyclable, and accepted in the market. The moment came when we decided to adapt technology and the real economy to what our industry is all about. First, we created an application to collect this waste. This way, everyone who delivers the waste can schedule it through the application. After we collect it, the person requests a bank transfer, and we make the payment. This platform makes the selective collection chain work.

How did the idea of ​​promoting these innovations come about?
If I buy recycled raw material in the market or in the industry, why not make raw material? Today, we manufacture our raw material with these residues taken from people’s homes. But I couldn’t be disorganized when this residue arrived, because that would cause a lot of confusion in my industry. So, we were improving our waste management system. The system that works today is like this: every batch of waste that arrives, whether from a housewife or from industry, receives a QR code right from the start. That way, I can read it and share with whoever is providing it, its movement, until the transformation into a roofing sheet. This QR code is then printed on the material and, in this way, where this roofing is installed, it is possible to read that QR code and find out the date, where the waste came from, the type of material from which it was produced, the number of tiles and where they were sold to. This gives traceability to the process, causing companies to send us more waste. We are providing scholarships and this project is already underway at the Federal University of Ceará (UFC) in Quixadá. Today we serve large corporations because we have a blockchain traceability system.

And now they are producing roofing that generate energy…
From that moment on, I looked at that roofing in 2019 and thought: that’s a great sustainable product. And with that in mind, why not couple clean energy into part of that product? And so, we did. We started researching and developing the issue of energy generation through Graphene. Initially, we were able to validate 60 kilowatts and now, together with the Brazilian Industrial Research and Innovation Company (Embrapii), which represents the laboratory network, as well as with the Technological Research Institute (IPT), we will bring to the market, by January 2023, a roof that generates 150 kilowatts per tile. We close the collection and quality cycles, we transform, we apply traceability, and we also add energy to this product. It is a great product that, besides removing waste from the environment and generating income, also gives the waste a useful life for 80 years. Besides all this, you still get clean renewable energy, in a product that can even be paid for by subscription.