Occupation: Environmental Engineer, Waste Management Entrepreneur
After graduating from Brentwood in 1993, Mateo enrolled in the Civil Engineering Program at Queens University and later spent 10 years working on projects within the environmental industry, ultimately with AECOM. One project involved bringing “The Gore Cover System” from Europe to North America for the first time to treat nutrient rich organic waste which was not yet recycled in North America. Mateo was assigned as the Project Manager for this project and subsequently became the Compost Lead responsible for the implementation of various Compost Facilities across North America.
These experiences provided the foundation for the creation of Net Zero Waste in 2006. Despite winning multiple contracts, it took 6 years to execute its first full scale operation due to municipal politics. In 2012, NZW won a 10 year contract to process all of Abbotsford’s curbside food/yard waste and has since added Chilliwack, Coquitlam, North and West Vancouver, the Sea to Sky Corridor, the Sunshine Coast, the Comox Valley and many other locations to its catchment. Net Zero Waste Inc. now currently has ownership of 4 operating compost facilities within BC, that together have sales above $8 Million annually along with full time employment for 30 people.
Environmental businesses like ours are part of a growing industry that is being proven around the world in developed nations. Like a landfill that doesn’t fill up, NZW has a proven track record and zero odour complaints, which now increases our likelihood of winning new contracts each year.
The focus of my talk will be to present on Organic Processing within BC today and how my path took me from some great memories at Brentwood to Engineering and finally to the world of Business Ownership. The talk will include a discussion on some of our largest business challenges and how we process everything from red meat mortalities to tanker trucks full of fish farm waste. The result is a much more sustainable solution that does not impact the environment and creates a resource instead of a waste product. We have also partnered with First Nations Communities and provided labour for band members, which has helped us to be successful in certain markets.
Every problem has its own unique solution and a good business owner is able to understand the problem and come up with these solutions. Net Zero Waste’s companies primarily process organic waste, however we also have a bagging line and we grow microgreens which we sell to Whistler restaurants that truly closes the recycling loop. NZW is now working on plans to develop anaerobic digestion at select facilities, which will add additional income and environmental sustainability by allowing us to pull energy from the liquid waste (fats, oils, greases and leachate) in the form of Natural Gas or Electricity.