CleanWorld is a clean tech company whose pioneering anaerobic digestion (AD) technologies are front runners in a growing sandbox of tech needed to decarbonize the world. While timing plays a part, CleanWorld’s success to date leans heavily on the innovating mind of their inventor Dr. Ruihong Zhang and head of R&D Dr. Josh Rapport, as well as on the management and operational teams at CleanWorld and Synergex Ventures, CleanWorld’s “launch and grow” parent company.
Under the trailblazing leadership of CEO Michele Wong, who this month was featured in Comstock’s Magazine (“Clean-tech Trailblazer” June 2014), CleanWorld is propelling itself past the commercialization stage.
They are heading toward a scale and growth trajectory at a critical time, when clean-tech like CleanWorld’s could very well help stem the tidal wave of climate change. CleanWorld’s innovations also present potentially billions of dollars worth of market cap value in shovel ready, sustainable decarbonization investments, offering a “good news” clean-tech story for a change.
What’s the Potential?
In California alone, more than 150 potential organic AD projects can be built today – a capacity made possible by CleanWorld’s commercialized track record, and by the more than 16 million tons of food and organic waste still going to landfills. If the State of CA did overnight achieve that potential organic diversion and efficient conversion, it would benefit from ghg reductions of 5-10 million metric tons per year (2). If we converted that organic waste to renewable transportation fuel it would displace more than 2 billion gallons of diesel and push the carbon values toward negative, as in achieving a multiplicity of environmental and financial ROI that is very hard to compete with.
Michele Wong and her team at CleanWorld and Synergex Ventures were able to transfer lessons learned from successfully traversing the evolution of the computing industry from large mainframes and a few programming languages, to today’s sophisticated micro-computing and platform application-driven marketplace. They applied these transformative lessons to proving that CleanWorld BioDigesters can be scaled, deployed, and operated cost-effectively, efficiently, and profitably.
“Every day we double down on our dedication to innovation and to continual improvement to stay ahead of the competition and in front of our customer’s needs.” Tracy Saville, VP Marketing
That doubling down is both an art and science. This is especially true in the clean-tech world when commercializing capital-intensive technology with many moving parts, and in proving a business model that is disrupting industries.
CleanWorld’s technology is one of the most important and powerful investments available in the clean-tech industry today if the goal is both growth value and significant carbon reductions in order to adapt to the climate change already underway. This team’s daily mountain climbing is fueled by the dream that diverting food and agricultural waste away from landfills and converting it to meet the state’s energy and transportation fuel needs is not only critical to fighting climate change, but also very good business.
The First Three Years
CleanWorld had to prove to investors and customers alike that food and agricultural waste recycling through anaerobic digestion is cost-effective and efficient – and repeatable. In doing so, CleanWorld is also proving their technology can very well be this decades most important clean-tech innovation and every community’s most powerful weapon in their war against climate change wrought by carbon emissions. Climate resiliency, adaptation investments in infrastructure so that we can weather the rising tides of oceans and temperatures makes the work of CleanWorld all the more urgent.
In the process of proving it’s clean-tech can change the world and be profitable, CleanWorld is also leading the way in the transformation of the waste recycling, transportation, and energy industries. And investors and the markets are beginning to take note.
In the upcoming July issue of Biomass Magazine, the quarterly Biomass Construction Update celebrates the completion of the UC Davis Renewable Energy Anaerobic Digester by CleanWorld. Kolby Hoagland writes that “…The ability of…CleanWorld’s recent installations to accept a range of feedstocks, coupled with their ability to produce a variety of energy products, imparts elasticity on the front and back end of these biogas units and instills market resiliency that any financial planner would deem wise.” (Read Kolby’s full article “Digesting Change in the Biogas Sector”).
Things are heating up in the sector overall. According to Greenbiz.com, “total venture investment in waste and recycling firms reached $371 million, followed by advanced materials firms attracting $299 million of investment, clean-tech agriculture pulling in $266 million and water-related technologies securing $190 million.” (1)
“while some federal agencies target the organic portion of the waste stream (for example the EPA’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program), there is no specific national legislation addressing organic waste in the U.S. However, various states and municipalities have developed laws or policies aimed at reducing the amount of organic waste going to their landfills. Twenty-four states have some kind of landfill ban on organic wastes, ranging from restricting only leaves or grass clippings to more completely restricting yard waste or even food waste from landfills. Three states — Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont — have comprehensive landfill bans on food waste (Table 1, p. 7, in “Organic Waste, A New Frontier in Recycling and Clean Fuels” a report due out this summer). (3)
The potential for CleanWorld to stay the course is strong, and the company is most appreciative of the many partners who help tell the story of what’s possible in the growing organics industry. If trailblazing were easy, everyone would be doing it. At CleanWorld, we feel very fortunate that trailblazing and innovating is at the heart of what we get to do every day. It’s nice that writers who cover the business of what CleanWorld does can see the nuances of this changing marketplace and dynamic technology. That the investment community also sees the benefits, and they are liking the socially responsible ROI upside potential too.
(2) CalRecycle paper on Composting and Anaerobic Digestion, September 2013.
(3) Organic Waste: A New Frontier in Recycling & Clean Fuels; History, Policy and Potential was written by Matthew P. Tomich, Vice President at Energy Vision, and Eve Gutman, a Research Intern at Energy Vision and undergraduate student in Anthropology at Haverford College. This report is currently being finalized to focus on the connection between organics as a transportation fuel and climate change.