James and Onunda logo
11 October 2023 Type: Blog
Themes: Company news

Q&A with James Meyer: Chief Technology Officer

We sat down with James Meyer, Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder of Onunda. James designed the innovative green technology that intends to revolutionise the global wastewater industry for good.

Working with a world-class team at Onunda, James is determined to turn waste into worth - removing pollutants and toxic chemicals from wastewater, and protecting natural environments, agriculture and communities.

James has had a colourful career in a range of industries, including biotechnology and waste gasification. He has worked alongside skilled people in a multitude of roles - from engineers to academics. But what drives his ambition, focus and success?

We took a deep-dive into James’ experience and aspirations, and the impact of designing and implementing cutting-edge technology to solve real-world problems.

How has your experience led to your role of Chief Technology Officer?

I’ve been fortunate to work in a diverse range of industries including biotechnology, wastewater treatment, industrial drying, and waste gasification. This background cultivated an appreciation for the impact that technology can have on solving real-world problems. My experience has been hands-on: working closely with multidisciplinary engineers, academics, scientists, technicians, and manufacturers. This journey has helped me accumulate the technical knowledge and problem solving skills that now drive our technological endeavours at Onunda.

Did you always know you wanted to become a chartered engineer? What was driving your aspirations?

Growing up, I was always fascinated by the natural world. Initially, I was interested in becoming a scientist, but this later developed into a love for engineering. This shift was fuelled by a desire to use my scientific knowledge to impact my community. Chartership was then a natural progression in ensuring that I was growing in all the facets that contribute to becoming a versatile and competent engineer.

What is the best advice that someone has ever given you?

The best advice I have received is about how to view mistakes in the context of problem solving. Responding to mistakes in a strictly punitive way makes people retreat in fear. If mistakes are used as a guiding tool in a controlled environment, then this develops a culture of questioning, rather than fear. This mindset shift has made me more adaptable and resilient, and transformed my view of engineering.

How do you stay inspired and focused on goals?

What keeps me focused on goals is a genuine interest in our technology. Onunda is a proud UK startup with the potential to be exported across the globe. It’s exciting and inspiring to know that our technology will have such a positive impact on communities, human health, and the natural environment.

What led you to design this revolutionary technology for Onunda?

Being a part of Onunda gives me the unique opportunity of working in a world-class team, on a world-leading technology with the potential of transforming the wastewater industry for the better. These efforts are aimed at helping return the quality of the rivers and lakes across the UK to their natural beauty.

Being the CTO, what do your day-to-day responsibilities look like?

As CTO, I work closely with the engineering team to continuously refine the process for safety, efficiency, and cost. I’m committed to innovation, exploring emerging technologies, and enhancing sustainability. It’s a multifaceted role which blends technical expertise with a forward-thinking approach to design. This ensures that technical improvements are continuously made which are aligned with industry standards and environmental responsibility.

What separates Onunda’s technology from others in the industry?

Onunda’s technology is unique in the benefits it offers. It eradicates the need for land banks; removes micropollutants from the food chain; and improves food security by recovering valuable macronutrients for fertiliser applications. These benefits can be achieved without depending on fossil fuels as the process is energetically self-sufficient. What’s more, Onunda technology can either be implemented as a standalone solution or retrofitted to improve existing wastewater treatment infrastructure.

What are the benefits of Onunda’s technology and how does it solve problems?

Onunda's technology turns waste into worth. Sewage is filled with energy and nutrients which are traditionally lost when biosolids are buried in land banks. For the first time, Onunda’s technology offers the industry a means to recover these valuable resources in a way that is cost effective, energetically efficient and environmentally friendly.

What does success for Onunda look like to you?

In the short term, success is building a proof-of-concept pilot plant. Considering the benefits, in the medium term I envisage the technology being retrofitted to wastewater treatment plants in the UK and UAE. With the flexibility of treating a variety of domestic, industrial and agricultural wastes, in the long term the technology has the potential to become an industry standard for valorising organic waste and ensuring nutrient neutrality is maintained.

Find out more about the innovation behind the Onunda technology, a breakdown of how it works, and how it’s going to be applied as a revolutionary wastewater management solution to transform wastewater for good.