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Emmie Leung Named One of Canada’s Most Powerful

Emmie Leung, Founder and CEO has grown Emterra Group into a national leader in the waste resources and recycling management industry, with more than 1,100 employees and a network of 31 recycling and other waste management facilities.

Over the past 40 years, Emmie Leung, Founder and CEO of Emterra Group, has led her company from a fledging, one-woman start-up, to a widely recognized and regarded leader in waste recycling and resource management. During the Women's Executive Network's (WXN) Awards in Toronto, Emmie was named one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Winners in the category of Entrepreneurs.  

In the Women’s Executive Network’s announcement, Sherri Stevens, President & CEO of PhaseNyne (parent company of Women's Executive Network – WXN) stated, “The Top 100 Awards showcases the leaders that are helping to drive positive change and progress and to remind us of the importance of empowering women in our workforce.”

“This award program recognizes women who have pushed the boundaries and are in a constant pursuit of leadership excellence,” said Emmie. “It is a complete honor to be included with this group of exemplary people and to be recognized as one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women.”  

Judges commended Emmie for how she has grown and adapted her business to changing commodity markets and customer needs; how she has built her team to support her vision; and how she has demonstrated her commitment to the community.

Widely recognized as a pioneer and leader in the recycling industry in Canada since 1976, she is credited with the innovation of introducing reusable blue bags to collect old newspaper and later, other recyclable materials door-to-door in British Columbia, establishing that province’s first successful municipal curbside recycling program.

Today, Emterra has become a leader in green fleet management, investing millions in environmentally-friendly compressed natural gas (CNG) trucks and a network of public CNG fuelling stations across Canada - introducing Emterra into an entirely new line of business while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and noise pollution of its own fleet and enabling other fleets to do the same.

Also part of Emterra Group are Canadian Liquids Processors, which provides one-of-a-kind confidential destruction of consumer products and liquids, and Emterra Tire Recycling, which hauls, processes and collects used tires in the Province of Ontario.

Today, her recycling operation is a multi-million dollar, international family of companies with more than 1,100 employees spread across 31 locations in Canada and the State of Michigan. Joining her in the day-to-day operation are her daughters Paulina, VP, Corporate Strategy and Business Development and Vivian, Manager, Materials, Next Life.

“At Emterra, we look at things differently,” Emmie says. “Our business is 100 per cent the result of diverting waste and transforming it into valuable commodities and green energy.”  

Employment diversity also earned Emmie marks in the Top 100 awards program. As a young female immigrant for whom English was a second language, establishing herself in a male-dominated industry wasn’t easy. Having experienced this, Emmie ensures the work environment at Emterra is one that values and includes everyone. For the last two years, Emterra was a finalist in BC’s Workplace Inclusion Awards for its willingness to focus on diverse talent pools. Emterra was also nominated for an Innovative Labour Solutions Awards for considering and accommodating adults with developmental disabilities. Emterra has also been recognized by trade and stewardship organizations, along with employment programs across the country:

  • 2016 and 2017 Canada’s Greenest Employers

  • 2016 Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce Business Leadership Award

  • 2015 Synergy Sustainability Institute’s EcoStar Awards in the Climate Action Category

  • 2015 Surrey Board of Trade Environment and Business Awards in the Large Business Category

  • Recycling Council of Ontario’s Special Municipal Program for Waste Minimization recognizing Emterra's Community Care™ program, Make Your Contribution at the Curb!™ with the Region of Niagara:

    • 2015 – Gold

    • 2013 and 2014 – Silver

    • 2012 – Platinum

  • 2013 Top 10 finalist in Grant Thornton LLP and Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s Private Business Growth Award

Not surprisingly, Emmie’s community contributions are aimed towards increasing sustainability and healthy living. Under Emmie’s leadership, Emterra’s Community Care™ program focuses on activities with dual goals: furthering recycling while supporting local social and health-related endeavours. Among these initiatives is Make Your Contribution at the Curb™, which encourages residents and businesses in Ontario’s Niagara Region and those in Courtenay and Comox on Vancouver Island to recycle more and in return, support local health care services.

The greatest demonstration of Emmie’s commitment to the community may well be Emterra, itself which she says, “is an endeavor worth committing my life to because I profoundly believe that we, as a society, must not be wasteful, and we must strive to live zero waste lives.”

Being included among Canada’s elite female leaders does not mean slowing down - at least not for Emmie whose Emterra Group celebrated its 40th anniversary last year. Rather, the honor is more of a motivator for the veteran executive. “We must continue to look towards the future and challenge the norm, ask questions and create new goals. There is no time to stop - we have so much to do and we need to inspire and motivate each other to get it done.”

Recent recognition of Emmie’s entrepreneurial drive and pioneering leadership include other awards for her including:

  • 2014 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Special Citation for Pioneering Contributions

  • 2014 EY Entrepreneur of the Year™ Ontario award for Energy and Cleantech

  • 2013 Canadian Waste Sector Executive of the Year in the large private business category by the Ontario Waste Management Association

  • 2013 Entrepreneur of the Year by the Association of Chinese Canadian Entrepreneurs

  • 2012 Rosie Award, Waste & Recycling News in recognition of women in business

  • 2012 Environmental Award for Personal Achievement, Recycling Council of British Columbia

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