How one diverse perspective can transform the lives of Canadians
Emmie Leung, founder and CEO of Emterra Group, is the perfect case study to demonstrate the value that diverse perspectives bring to Canada’s supply chain. Emterra Group is a family-owned company that Emmie started on her own forty-six years ago. The company is recognized today as a leader in Canada’s waste resources and recycling management industry, employing over 1,000 people throughout British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and the State of Michigan. With a focus on circular economy and sustainability, Emterra Group continues to find opportunities to improve the lives of Canadians with a regenerative approach to waste management.
“When I finished my commerce degree at the University of Manitoba, I was struggling to find a job,” Emmie said, “I was a female living in 1970’s Winnipeg, who spoke English as a second language. Then I was struck by something odd while walking to job interviews.”
Emmie noticed that businesses were throwing away used cardboard and newspapers. In , where she grew up, waste paper was treated as a valuable resource and sent to paper mills to be reused. She saw an opportunity to collect discarded cardboard and waste paper and send it overseas to the paper mills in Asia, using the empty shipping containers that would be returning overseas. To cut the transportation costs of railways, Emmie moved to Vancouver, and that’s where Emterra began. Now, decades later, Emterra Group continues to find innovative growth opportunities in the circular economy.
Last year, Emterra Group was honoured with several achievements, including receiving the Award for Environmental Excellence by the Regina & District Chamber of Commerce and the Leadership Award from the Canadian Natural Gas Vehicle Alliance. Emterra along with its Producer Responsibility Organization, Ryse Solutions, became Founding Members of The Canadian Plastics Pact (CPP)—a platform that unites diverse leaders and experts in the national plastics value chain to collaborate and rethink the way we design, use, and reuse plastic packaging.
Emterra Group also partnered with Nespresso Canada with a collective commitment to sustainability, launching the Green Bag program in Regina and surrounding communities. As a recycling service provider for the region, Emterra will collect Nespresso’s used coffee pods at the consumers curb in the Green Bag provided at purchase. This will ultimately help the municipality of Regina meet its sustainability targets.
“We see this as a major area of opportunity,” Emmie shared. “As the concept of producer responsibility spreads, large brands are adjusting their business models to include ways to help consumers recycle their product or packaging once they’re done with it. This will lead to more recycling programs Emterra Group will create that is convenient for consumers to use while delivering measurable environmental outcomes.”
On top of the accomplishments of the past year, Emmie says she is most proud to have been able to provide sustainable long-term employment opportunities, and despite the challenges of the past couple years, Emterra Group has made no COVID-related layoffs.
“The job opportunities and meaningful employment we create with our circular economy business model are a good reflection of where society wants to go, especially for the younger generations. Emterra employees are contributing to a better environment, not just for today, but for the future.”
Emmie’s entrepreneurial spirit and diverse perspective has improved the lives of many Canadians, and the environments and communities where we live. As the sustainability movement continues its momentum, Emterra Group will be at the forefront of the regenerative economy, leading by example through innovation and inclusion.