How did Suez begin?
From the inauguration of the Suez Canal through the revolutions of personal hygiene, public health and urban comfort, our solutions and technologies have accompanied cities, industries and governments to meet the challenges of societal and demographic growth. The opening of the canal in 1869 revolutionised world trade. Not only did it mark the birth of our company’s name – a synonym of audacity, ambition and innovation – but also the beginning of industrial success that powered more than a century of advancement in every facet of society
Why do you do what you do? What is your mission and vision for the future?
SUEZ Australia & New Zealand draws on our global and local expertise to drive the resource revolution. We assist communities, businesses and governments to protect, access and optimise the natural resources that are essential to our future and create new resources through reuse and recovery of water and waste.
A big part of what SUEZ does is provide our customers with smart and reliable solutions to collect, recover and recycle waste into valuable resources by driving the circular economy.
More than 150 years after the inauguration of the Suez Canal, SUEZ is building on its pioneering history and culture of innovation to shape a sustainable environment, now.
Composting organic materials at home and in large-scale facilities is part of a growing trend in Australia to better manage and re-use organic material. How does SUEZ fit into Australia’s composting story?
SUEZ is focused on creating a sustainable environment, now. A big part of being sustainable is extracting the maximum possible benefit from the resources we use in our daily lives as part of the circular economy. One of the key elements of a circular economy is to reuse rather than add to landfill by throwing away. Composting does exactly that!
As a compost collection partner, Suez is facilitating the waste collection and commercial composting of food waste and compostable packaging. What happens after the waste is collected? What does the composting process look like?
In Queensland, SUEZ transports organic waste to our composting partner NuGrow, where it is turned into the highest quality compost and becomes a valued tool in the circular economy. Once the waste arrives at NuGrow it is receipted and deposited into the processing bay where it is screened for contamination. Once approved, it is mixed with other feedstocks to create the starting compost. Over a 12 to 16 week period, this material is turned and monitored to check that the material is composting efficiently. Once complete the compost is screened and sent to our customers in agriculture, commercial landscaping and infrastructure.
Have you had to adapt your processes to accept compostable products? If so, how?
Not at all. NuGrow has a rigorous vetting procedure for all materials that are to be composted in our processes. Partnering with Suez, we are able to work with their team to provide us the correct information early so our experts can research the new compostable that their clients are using.
How much compost do you produce in a year? Has the quantity increased and if so, by how much?
NuGrow Ipswich produces over 130,000t per annum and even more throughout its wider business. NuGrow expects this to grow year on year with the introduction of Food and Garden Organics collections from households and other government incentives.
Do you have to maintain any standards or certifications for the compost?
All compost produced on NuGrow facilities is tested to the Australian Standard 4454:2012 and our licence criteria administered by the Department of Environment and Science.
At the end of the process, what kinds of products are produced and where do they end up?
NuGrow creates compost which is used within our business units such as NuGrow Revegetation Services which uses it to remediate baron and disturbed lands to regrow the surrounding species. One particular project you can see this on is the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing. We also supply the agriculture sector which allows us to complete a carbon cycle by moving our compost to the growing regions to grow fruits and vegetables. These products then come back to the cities to be consumed and we start the process again.
How do you manage the risk of contamination to organic waste (i.e. non-compostable waste making its way into the waste collection bin)?
Placing incorrect items in the bin causes critical issues and prevents us from recycling some materials or can impact the quality of the end product created. Just a few contaminated bins can ruin an entire truckload of recyclables or compostable materials. This is the reason why SUEZ engages in extensive education campaigns by providing signage and training and to clients regarding contaminants to minimise this from occurring.
Who are your major customers?
We partner with thousands of customers in Australia who express a desire to improve their waste management performances. The Queensland Waste Levy introduced from July 1, 2019 meant there was also a financial incentive to do the right thing. As an example, SUEZ & NuGrow are helping shopping centres like Gasworks Plaza to launch composting programs. We are also helping Toombul Shopping centre to implement source-separation and collection for organics. The compost created is donated to a wide range of projects, from crucial native plantings and maintenance to supporting community gardens and other sustainability initiatives. We have collaborated with Qantas for the world’s first Zero waste flight in Australia.
AMP Shopping Centres such as Pacific Fair,QIC and centres such as Hyperdome, Robina Town Centre.
What are some of the challenges with composting?
Composting is about balance. Just like us, we cannot just eat one food source. The army of microbes that do the breaking down of organics needs a diverse range of food sources, so we have a harmonic balance of these populations. That is why when we work with a client like SUEZ, the wide customer base offers all different sorts of organics that can be used in the process. Moreover, just like us, we like unprocessed and salt (NaCl) free products for the process.
What is the best way for people to advocate for commercial composting in their city?
Long-term changes are required to support the growing demands on waste infrastructure and the systems that support the existing infrastructure. And we all have a role to play. People can always write to their local council and lobby for commercial composting facilities. But even composting on a small scale can go a long way so people should not discount the benefits of their own household arrangement. A number of retailers now market a range of products for consumers to get involved in composting at home.
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