Turning Waste into Energy

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One way that environmental engineer Derk Maat lives out his Christian calling is by turning waste into energy.  

Decades ago, as a budding engineer in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Maat was dismayed to discover that the river he loved to fish in was contaminated. “I was taking soundings at the river’s mouth, which was being filled with waste from a paper mill. The water was so bad my hands would come out with a rash. Meanwhile, two miles upstream I could fish in pristine water,” he said.  

Maat decided to help find solutions to the problem. Today he owns a company that uses a clean “waste-to-energy” gasification process to convert energy locked in organic waste into electricity—while at the same time minimizing harmful emissions. Many of his clients in the pulp and paper industry now use their sludge and wood waste as an energy source.   

“God sent his Son to save the world, not just souls. The world includes creation too. It’s been redeemed and needs to be reclaimed,” Maat explains. While converting waste into energy makes good business sense, Maat, a member of Meadowvale Community Christian Reformed Church, in Mississauga, Ontario, sees it as a matter of faithful discipleship. “The presence of the kingdom doesn’t only affect our personal spiritual lives. We have to take our faith into our boardrooms and projects. The love of God for his creation needs to permeate each one of us, our companies, [and] our marketplace,” he said.

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