Meet Neil Smith, CEO of Vanguard Renewables, a leading company in the development of organics-to-renewable energy projects. In this NothingWasted! episode, we spoke with Smith about renewable agriculture, the power of partnerships, Vanguard’s expansion plans, and more.
Read on for insights from our discussion:
Waste360: I know there has been recent news about BlackRock supporting Vanguard and would love to hear about that.
Smith: We’re very excited to have them as our new partner and owner. They have the capital but they also have the belief that ESG is important, and we felt they believed in our “why.” That’s the secret sauce here: they believe in why we exist and are looking forward to helping us become the national company that we plan to be.
Waste360: How’s your renewable agriculture division going?
Smith: The ag side—in partnership with Dominion—is fantastic. We have probably a dozen projects in construction now, with another dozen in late-stage development. And we are moving forward with as many projects as we possibly can. We’re able to learn a lot of lessons on the ag side that we can bring over to the organics side.
Waste360: I know the farm-powered strategic alliance has been a big win. Can you tell us more about that?
Smith: Yes, this is our attempt to engage large companies that produce large amounts of food waste to really think about the fundamental question of, “What story does your food waste tell?” And as we’ve been able to have that conversation with the C-suite level, they start to see the benefits of the anaerobic digestion business. We’ve gotten a lot of companies involved, including Unilever, Starbucks, and the Dairy Farmers of America.
Waste360: You guys are great at building partnerships. What advice can you share about doing that?
Smith: I think that we’re humble, and we know the world doesn’t revolve around us. We believe in partners, we know we need partners, and we know we can’t be successful without them. And, when you focus on trying to help your partner, in turn, they’re happy to help you. That’s the approach we’ve taken, and it’s served us well.
Listen to the full episode here.