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Dr. Frederick Von Strasser is an Austrian steel tycoon and an industrial engineer who has become known for his environmental work in recent years.


The multi-millionaire industrialist and chairman of the board of Central European Waste Management GmBH, with large recycling plants in several European countries, boasts substantial personal holdings in numerous environmental and recycling enterprises throughout Europe, North America and Africa.


Dr. Von Strasser originally made his fortune in South Africa in 1979. He pioneered a process whereby the mercury used in the gold mining industry was economically and safely removed from the mine workings. Since then, he has become known for his large scale environmental projects, including the clean-up of toxic waste sites in Somalia and Mozambique, and now in the Gulf Coast of the United States.


"I freely acknowledge,” he famously said, “that I am a businessman and industrialist first. However, today, steel recycling goes hand-in-hand with environmentalism.”


In 2005, after visiting Somalia, Von Strasser vowed to put at least 60% of his vast wealth into, “companies, research and grants focused on earth-friendly economic development.” Von Strasser saw first hand the secondary damage of the tsunami as it disrupted and destroyed dumps where for decades nuclear and chemical waste had been deposited in Africa.


Determined that he would use his wealth and influence to stop the destruction of the African coast, he began lobbying for investment in companies that can aid in the clean-up effort. Since then, reports indicate that Von Strasser and his various foundations have contributed more than one-hundred and thirty million US dollars to the clean-up and restoration of East Africa.


Dr. Von Strasser's campaign in Africa left him with specialist knowledge which is now being used in the Gulf of Mexico, following BP's oil spill. Indeed, one of his companies was the first to receive US Federal funding to help aid in the clean up efforts. He currently is chairman of the board of Central Europe Reclamations GmBH in Austria, a large steel and plastic recycler with facilities throughout Europe.


Dr. Frederick Von Strasser began his carrier as an industrial engineer in apartheid South Africa in the early 1970s. In 1979, he pioneered a process for the clean, safe and economic removal of mercury used for the separation of gold from the ore. Of this, Dr. Von Strasser said in an interview with the South African newspaper, The Rand Daily Mail, “that prior to this method, the system was messy, unclean, expensive and dangerous to the environment.”


“There was no real effort [to improve the process],” said the Austrian business mogul, “as no one could see an economic benefit in doing so. However, we were able to develop a system by which we could clean and dispose of this toxic waste safely. We also were able to reclaim large quantities of mercury and small amounts of gold and platinum, making it both environmentally friendly and profitable.” Indeed, the process was a money maker and one that the directors of the South African mining giant Deelkraal saw as both politically advantageous and lucrative. In 1982, reports indicate that Dr Von Strasser sold this process for an undisclosed sum and royalties.


In the years to follow, and well before it became fashionable, Dr. Frederick Von Strasser increased his holdings in recycling and environmentally friendly enterprises in Africa and North America. At one stage, the Financial Mail reported that he was asked to bid for the proposed scrapping of 400 kilometers of rail track in Tanzania. He was one of a small group of businessman who was allowed to conducted business with the formerly communist state.


In 1993, Dr. Von Strasser acquired a large stake in Paradigm Industrial Metals, becoming the majority shareholder in 2002. In 2010, the company merged with Vulcan Holdings AG under the new name of Central European Waste Management GmBH, acquiring the assets of several smaller recycling plants in Austria, Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic. With holdings estimated at more than 300 million US dollars, Dr. Von Strasser now serves as the company's Chairman.


Married for 28 years to his wife Ingrid, Von Strasser is the father to four boys. He is an avid sportsman and a concert pianist. His sports activities include skiing, golfing and yachting. He owns one of the largest private yachts in the world: The Maltese Falcon. It is rumored that he bought it from American venture capitalist Tom Perkins.

Extract with permission from “The Steel Environmentalist” -- (September 2010).