The recycling business is filled with ambitious entrepreneurs trying to make a fast buck off unwary investors, says a top U.S. waste-management executive.
“There’s lots of people in Wall Street who wished they never invested in it,” he said. “That’s why they look for people like the Crees and municipalities to invest in it.”
Joe Noorlag, marketing general manager for Laidlaw Inc. in Houston, was contacted by The Nation to comment on a plan for Crees to invest millions in a scheme to build recycling centres in dozens of U.S. cities.
The plan is being promoted by businessman Walter Childress, owner of a little-known Houston-based company, Selaco International Inc. Few details about the company were available from Duns Market Identifiers, which lists information about U.S. corporations.
Selaco is said to have 15 employees and is involved in “refuse systems” and “recycling.” No information was available about its sales, net worth, employment growth or number of accounts.
Noorlag was skeptical about Childress’s plan and advised the Crees to keep their money in the bank. If the plan is so good, Noorlag wondered, why didn’t Childress ask a bank for the money, instead of going all the way to Northern Quebec? And why haven’t other, larger companies already done it, he asked: “If it could be done, they’d be beating down the doors of municipal governments to do it.”
Noorlag also contradicted a story that Childress has reportedly told Cree leaders. Childress apparently claimed that Laidlaw, a giant waste-management multinational, was interested in buying his recycling technology because it is so innovative.
Noorlag, one of two executives who run Laidlaw’s Texas operations, said he’s never met or even heard of Childress. “I’ve never heard of anything like this.”
If it goes through, the investment of anywhere from $2 to $27 million could be one of the largest investments Crees have ever made from their compensation funds.