CDRA Member Spotlight: Gord Jonhson of Empower Environmental Solutions

Gord Johnson, President of Empower Environmental Solutions in Delta, BC, Canada

What materials do you recycle? Can you describe the volume and types of incoming materials you process?

We recover all of the components from asphalt shingles. We have a proprietary process for taking discarded asphalt shingles that are destined for landfills and extracting the liquid asphalt aggregate and fiber for usage in new hot mix asphalt, shingle manufacturing, and flat roof systems. We have steady-state production here in Vancouver at 10-20 TPD. Ramping up to increased production at 50-75 TPD by end of Q4 2022. Targeting 150-200 TPD for the Calgary facility – Our plants are designed to process 40,000 tons per year.


How did you get started in the business?

I was a partner in a company that developed a solution for treating production water from the oil & gas industry using MSW as a fuel source and one of the partners in that company was collecting shingles for RAS. he could see the market was limited for this product and together we started looking for solutions.   


What are the biggest challenges in your market and C&D recycling?

We know our system works as we operated a test facility. The biggest challenge we have faced is in scaling our technology from a small test facility to the pilot plant operating in Vancouver to a full commercial facility soon to be constructed in Calgary.

Where are the biggest opportunities?

We can bring our solution to every major market across North America, thirteen million tons of asphalt shingles come off roofs every year and only a small percentage is actually being recycled. Working with other stakeholders we believe our technology will have a significant impact on this problem.  


How long have you been a member of CDRA?

About 1.5 years.

What inspired you to join CDRA?

I have always subscribed to the newsletter and followed the industry, especially shingle recycling when the CDRA restarted shingle recycling coverage we saw this was a signal to get more involved and joined the CDRA shingle recycling committee. The people who want a solution and see the problem are CDRA members. and being part of this association is a great place to interact and learn.  

What do you find most rewarding about working in this industry?

It is very rewarding to be doing something that makes a difference and truly reduces waste.

What challenges have you faced over the years and how have you overcome them?

When you develop new technology, you need financial resources & people who have the skills and knowledge to bring it to the market – funding the company has been one of the biggest hurdles to overcome. We initially financed the company via a combination of investors and bank loans. Some of our early investors helped us to become a public company in July of 2021. This brought us financial backing but more importantly the people with the right expertise for the company like our CEO Aidan Mills.

What’s something about you (a fun fact) that not many people know?

I spent many years providing security to the concert industry working with bands like U2 and the Rolling Stones. 

How do you think the industry is changing and what trends do you see coming up on the horizon?

I believe Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) will continue to grow and have a significant impact. I think we are going to see more products designed to be recycled or recovered as part of the circular economy.  Policies to support this are going to support  this trend of sustainable waste management.

What advice would you give to someone interested in this industry?

The best advice I could give is, to talk to people in the industry- create a network with industry professionals.

Best piece of business advice you’ve gotten or learned over the years?

Be persistent if you believe in something. 


Would you like to have your company featured in a spotlight like this? Contact CDRA Executive Director Becky Caldwell at [email protected]

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