cacao village


As the theme of sustainability is only expected to grow more prevalent in the cocoa industry in 2022, there is one eco-friendly use for cocoa, that many may not have anticipated.

Cacao Ecovillage will be the ‘Silicon Valley’ for circular economy innovators

Architecture studio, Valentino Gereri Atelier has designed the world’s first carbon-neutral smart village, on behalf of Ecuadorian chocolate manufacturer, MUZE Cacao, with the intention of supporting a circular economy in the cacao industry. The Cacao Eco Village has been designed from the ground up with sustainability in mind, relying on local, natural resources for its construction – including cocoa beans.

In particular, it is the shells of the cocoa fruit (which account for around 80% of cocoa waste) that are to be converted into a bioplastic material, which can then be used in 3D printing. The environmental considerations don’t stop with cocoa, though, with ideas such as rooftop rainwater collection systems and solar energy panels being implemented as well.

“We have pushed the circular economy core principles so much that they informed the design philosophy of the entire project. The cacao waste, a result of the chocolate production process, will be re-utilized for 3D printing parts of the village. Waste is not only turned into a resource but into architecture.”

The village will be constructed in Manabi, a province in central coastal Ecuador. The location is local to Ecuadorian cacao farmers and families and is praised for its natural beauty and panoramic beaches. This will likely encourage what the group calls ‘conscious tourism’ as another contributor to the economy.

The Cacao Eco Village was designed to be multi-purpose, incorporating five core principles: Modular (be extendable and replicable), Functional (serve a purpose for the local community), Sustainable (energy self-sufficient), Tech-enabled and Connected.

A cacao processing plant, chocolate factory and education and research centre will be key elements of the village, but it is also intended to be a place to facilitate co-living and co-working of the local community, along with ‘change-makers’ and innovators of the industry.

“Cacao Ecovillage will be the ‘Silicon Valley’ for circular economy innovators; a space for inventions and a testing ground for AgTech, FinTech, FoodTech, startups, and companies; manufacturers, producers and researchers. A destination and co-living space for change-makers to connect, co-create, get inspired, and ignite social impact.”

For MUZE Cacao, the move is about transparency – to create ethical cacao-based products that waste as little as possible, while better integrating farmers into the global supply chain. “These highly traceable products will reduce waste and offset carbon footprint while lifting farmers and their families out of poverty.”

Construction of The Cacao Village is set to begin in 2022.

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