Walker Industries employee Crystal Vella has been named to Canada’s 2021 Clean50 as an emerging leader in sustainability for her efforts to help Walker reach its goal of becoming carbon neutral.
Canada’s Clean50 Awards are announced annually by Delta Management Group and the Clean50 organization to recognize those 50 individuals or small teams, from 16 different categories, who have done the most to advance the cause of sustainability and clean capitalism in Canada over the past two years.
“Delta Management Group has selected and named 20 absolutely outstanding younger Canadians as ‘Emerging Leaders’. In many ways the description is unfair – they are, quite simply, ‘Leaders’, who in every case have already accomplished a great deal,” says Gavin Pitchford, CEO, Delta Management Group.
Vella, a business performance analyst with Walker’s environmental division in Niagara, Ontario, was chosen after rigorous screening and research by Delta Management, with advice from internal researchers and external advisors, and was among Honourees selected from an initial pool of approximately 900 nominees.
Clean50 announced its 2021 award winners during Earth Week on April 19.
“We’re extremely proud of Crystal for this accomplishment and the environmental leadership she demonstrates on a daily basis,” says Walker president and CEO Geordie Walker.
“As a company with more than 130 years of environmental stewardship, we are committed to a sustainable future and Crystal is playing a key role in moving us towards this goal.”
Vella is part of the team that figured out how to recover what was previously 565,000 tonnes of waste. This included materials recovered from municipal green-bin programs, biosolids processing recovered from residual wastewater treatment plant material, wood waste grinding and mulching that turn it into three different product streams and the collection and dewatering of restaurant grease traps which provide feedstock for anaerobic digesters across Canada.
She has also played a key role in developing the company’s strategy to reach carbon neutrality by 2040.
Vella, a St. Catharines, Ontario, native, is honoured to be recognized by Canada’s Clean50 among a distinguished group of young environmental leaders.
“It’s great to be considered part of this amazing cohort of people who are doing a lot of great work, but also it highlights that Walker as a company is doing great things,” she says.
“I’m the first at Walker to be recognized by Clean50, but I doubt I’ll be the last because of all the interesting projects we are working on as a collective for the environment and sustainability.”
Niagara College intern
Vella began her career with Walker as an intern while completing post-graduate environmental management studies at Niagara College and has taken on greater responsibility over the past several years to reduce the company’s carbon footprint and increase its position as one of Canada’s largest producers of carbon offsets.
Leveraging her carbon quantification and management expertise, Vella is helping Walker work toward its goal of carbon neutrality over the next 20 years. She also provides critical research and analysis to support the low-carbon circular economy through the recovery of waste resources.
Walker offers services including composting, biosolids management, grease-trap servicing, and wood and shingle grinding. These organic materials are transformed into fertilizers, mulch, soils and alternative low-carbon fuels while recycled concrete and asphalt get reintegrated into new products.
Walker recovers nearly one million tonnes of resources annually with a long-term goal of recovering five million tonnes annually.
“I’m grateful that I’m able to do work that I’m passionate about for a company that recognizes the importance of creating a more sustainable future and reducing our impact on the environment,” Vella says.
Walker Industries is a fifth generation, family-owned Canadian company that has operated from its base in the Niagara Region for more than 130 years. With facilities across Canada and the United States the company employs more than 1,200 people in renewable energy, environmental waste management and recovery service, aggregates, emulsions, paving and construction.