Namik Kemal Ozden, the CEO and Co-Founder of waste management firm GreenWaste Malta Ltd, landed on our shores in 2018. Six years, a wife and a daughter later, his entrepreneurial spirit has motivated his intent to make positive changes to the environment around us through the use of strategic partnerships and advanced technologies.

“We are agents of change,” says Namik Kemal Ozden, GreenWaste Malta Ltd’s CEO and Co-Founder.

This has been the ethos at the heart of Namik’s endeavours ever since he landed in Malta six years ago in 2018, when he took up a job at Lufthansa Technik. “Little did I know that this new chapter in my life would not only lead me to a professional opportunity but it would introduce me to the love of my life, and now we have a one-year-old daughter as the fruit of our love,” he smiles, proudly.

Indeed, inspired by his wife’s family background in the business of waste management and recycling in Colombia – and attuned to a growing sense of urgency in this regard on the Maltese Islands – Namik established GreenWaste Malta Ltd in 2021. “More people, more waste. This is how the story always goes. We could see that Malta had its share of waste struggles, especially when it came to recycling rates, so we saw an opportunity to step in.”

However, Namik “wants to do more than just clean up; we want to bring in new ideas and technology to deal with waste smarter. Our goal is not just to address immediate waste problems but also to create a model that can be scaled up and replicated globally.”

To achieve this, the company, initially, started to offer waste brokerage services. “I would find waste collectors in Malta – for instance, WasteServ – and buy their waste to sell to recycling companies abroad. So, in the last two years, we’ve exported all of the glass refuse in Malta, since that’s 100 per cent recyclable,” the CEO explains.

However, his ambitions do not stop here, with Namik attesting that the goal is to “accumulate the necessary funds to invest in advanced recycling technologies and equipment. Our focus is to innovate technologies in the waste sector and make a positive impact both locally and globally with environmental advancements.”

Namik’s role in actioning this raison d’être – introducing “sustainable solutions and cutting-edge technologies” – lies in his dedication to “making a lasting impact on the environment while also navigating the business landscape to ensure growth and success for our ventures.

“My goal is to contribute to a greener future for generations to come,” he says. “People look at waste as something that they want to get rid of, but I see it as an opportunity. We pay attention to materials that other companies might not consider profitable. This way, we find chances that others might miss. I believe in pushing boundaries to find new ways of addressing the challenges,” he continues.

And all this is becoming increasingly vital in a context where governments across the globe are starting to view the overextraction of natural resources as untenable. In a way, Namik insists, this awareness is “promising for our sector as it is being more recognised and supported.”

To illustrate the importance of such shifts in perspectives, he provides an example: “think of the world like a big cooking pan. Just as what you put in the pan affects the taste of the food, what we do affects the environment. Some things result in certain effects right away, while others take time. The changes we make to the environment today will result in effects later.”

And this belief isn’t just business-centred, he insists; it’s personal. “As a parent, I worry about the world my daughter will grow up in. When I see how the challenges of the future could impact her, I feel like I need to make things better for her and the generations to come.”

While the firm has only been operational for three years, “since our establishment, our company has embarked on a journey of growth and evolution. Through strategic partnerships, collaborations and continuous learning, we have broadened our impact beyond waste brokerage. Today, we are actively involved in pioneering initiatives that not only address waste challenges but also contribute to the larger cause of environmental sustainability. Our expansion is testament to our commitment to making a lasting and positive difference,” Namik insists.

As a result, 2023 proved to be more successful than anticipated. “Our own experience last year was good despite certain challenges. We secured a few key agreements, which helped us greatly. We are constantly trying to improve our methodology and restructure according to the new necessities.” The company also expanded – a trajectory he insists they will retain over the next few months. “We’ve already established a new company in Turkey and are waiting for some developments to be completed there. Moreover, we are currently working on new projects in Malta so we can strengthen our roots here.”

This push towards investing in the development and use of advanced technology in waste management will continue to be Namik’s – and the firm’s – driving force over the next few months. Indeed, the team is working on a prototype for an autonomous “environment cleaning robot”, which he hopes to finalise by the end of 2025. “We don’t just follow the latest tech trends; we actively work with them. Our goal is to create technologies that meet the demand for the fast changes that are occurring and which take care of the environment. This approach not only keeps us up to date but also helps us make a big difference in making our world cleaner and better. In short, our ethos is not just about making profits. It is about improving things for tomorrow. And that is what puts us on the path to success, I believe.”

Over the course of this year, GreenWaste Malta Ltd aims to continue to expand “recycling partnerships to maximise waste-to-resource conversion.” Namik sees the company’s relationship with the Maltese Islands as central to this drive. “Malta itself has a business-friendly environment and the country has a lot to give. Most regulators are helpful and open for support, while Government entities like the Ministry for the Environment, Sustainable Development and Climate Change, the Environmental Resources Authority (ERA), and WasteServ are working hard to evolve and improve at what they are doing.”

Looking ahead, Namik sees Malta as a place where positive things can happen. “We believe we will be in a much better position in the years to come locally. Our ideas and the Maltese vision really fit together well. We think this is a good path for our business and for helping the environment. We are excited to keep moving forward and to see how our decision to start our business here will develop into a win for us and the world around us,” the CEO asserts.

Opportunities, he continues, lie in fostering sustainable collaborations and investing in game-changing technologies. “So, our drive for this year is to solidify our position as pioneers in waste management innovation, leaving a lasting, positive impact on the industry and the planet. We still have much to develop when it comes to waste management and recycling. But I believe we will reach that point,” he concludes.

This article is part of the serialisation of 50 interviews featured in MaltaCEOs 2024 – the sister brand to MaltaCEOs.mt and an annual high-end publication bringing together some of the country’s most influential business leaders

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