July 23, 2024

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WasteFuel CEO Trevor Neilson on renewables, climate change, ‘interesting bunch’ of activists

2 min read

Trevor Neilson, the co-founder, chairman and CEO of WasteFuel, sounds a bit frustrated with people’s behavior when it comes to the environment. 

“It is relentless consumption 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” he says in conversation with deputy editorial director Ellie Austin at Fortune’s Global Forum in Abu Dhabi. “It seems as if people are behaving in a way that we would never tell our children to behave.”

Every year, the world produces over 2.01 billion metric tons of municipal solid waste, and Neilson’s company is seeking to make something useful out of this crisis, by transforming waste into renewable fuels. This has brought him in contact with his major investors, BP and Maersk, but also climate activists, who he calls an “interesting bunch.” He recalls how Roger Hallam, the founder of Extinction Rebellion, “told me he didn’t trust me because I was a capitalist. And I couldn’t run from that, because I had a long career as a capitalist.” 

But as he looked around the room in Abu Dhabi, Neilson said the United Arab Emirates should stand out as a key example for anyone worried about the future. “Anybody that thinks that this isn’t possible, look at the history of the UAE and what it accomplished in 50 years,” Neilson said to a full room in Abu Dhabi. “And imagine, with the same level of commitment, the same level of entrepreneurship and engineering talent and dedication to something, where we could be in 50 years.”

Watch the video interview above or see the full transcript below.

Ellie Austin:
The world is suffering from an ever-growing solid waste problem. According to the World Bank, more than 2 billion metric tons of municipal solid waste is produced globally every year. By 2050, that figure will increase by 70% to 3.4 billion metric tons a year. The increase is driven by factors such as population growth, urbanization, economic development, changes in consumption patterns and our lifestyles. Mismanaged…

Fortune Editors

2023-11-28 07:56:17

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