Sealing the deal

Sealing the deal

Select Civil’s Renaud Chauvet explains the key service capabilities private waste management organisations such as SUEZ have looked for when using a specialist waste services provider. 

Market niches don’t spring up by accident, but are created by identifying the needs and wants not being addressed in the marketplace.

It’s then important to offer a cost-effective solution based on real competitive advantages, including industry knowledge, specialised assets and capital.

Denis Poisson worked as a pipe layer while travelling Australia in the 80s and hoped that one day he could leave a lasting impact on the local market. In 2001, he saw an opportunity to diversify his international business Groupe Poisson, acquiring Select Civil, a small-sized business specialising in civil works and wet and dry hire that would later expand significantly.

The former owner, John Donahue, remained on board until 2005, when Renaud Chauvet took over as Managing Director. Renaud’s mission was to break into the Australian waste industry, which had remained Groupe Poisson’s strength in Europe. 

The majority of Groupe Poisson’s 700-strong fleet of equipment in Europe, Australia and Canada specialises in waste, with the company working with a range of major private waste companies such as SUEZ and Veolia. 

Select Civil’s intimate knowledge of the landfill and waste businesses via its parent company in France meant it was ideally placed to service both areas. 

Renaud tells Waste Management Review that as a civil contractor, the company’s historical understanding of waste industry machine maintenance and performance was a key point of difference to enter the local waste industry.

“Most other companies are civil companies that dabble in waste, whereas we specifically targe it as our core business and have done so with our parent company for the past 40 years,” Renaud says.

The company’s construction team comprises professional engineers, experienced supervisors and foremen, established plant operators and labourers able to support landfill cell construction, site remediation, road and drainage construction.

In landfill services, the organisation operates a fleet of waste handling bulldozers, compactors and dump trucks, in addition to various loaders and excavator track loaders.

Having taken on a broad range of service capabilities, Select Civil also positioned itself in the market as a leader in maintenance and sourcing of quality equipment.

The business also supplies long-term dry hire equipment to councils and a number of private green waste facilities, garden organics and alternative waste treatment, as well as waste transfer stations. 

Renaud says that securing landfill management contracts with SUEZ at its Kemps Creek facility in 2009 and Lucas Heights Resource Recovery Parks in 2011 lay the groundwork for its Australian waste management entry. From there, it went on to operate the Melbourne Regional Landfill, initially for Boral and then Cleanaway prior to Cleanaway taking over onsite operations in late 2016.  

With a nationwide service offering currently operating in Sydney, Melbourne, WA and North Queensland, the company currently handles 3.2 million tonnes of waste per annum.

A well-run landfill is one of Select Civil’s passions, having continually worked with clients such as SUEZ and Cleanaway to improve its services in Australia and look for efficiencies.

“We utilise a variety of alternative daily cover systems onsite and have worked with SUEZ in trialling the most appropriate ones for the EPA to assess and eventually approve,” Renaud says.

He says that the company has been called upon by SUEZ, Veolia and Cleanaway to perform other civil works on sites, including capping, gas and leachate infrastructure and transfer station upgrades. The companies have also leveraged Select Civil’s expertise in construction to develop waste infrastructure. 

Having secured its reputation in the private sector, Renaud says the next steps for the company are to bring its expertise and private sector thinking to local councils.

“We believe that there are substantial efficiencies and improvements to be made on a lot of sites,” he says.

“We have a long-term strategy that we would like to duplicate in other intensive and harsh environments within four to five years.” 

He says Select Civil has already worked with councils to build landfill cells and piggyback liners and is keen to support local governments that don’t supply onsite services. The company’s aims in this area are to improve efficiencies, minimise environmental impacts and cover usage while maximising compaction.  

“One of the big problems in landfills is that operators can have minimal or untimely access to capital to purchase plants and equipment,” Renaud says. 

“Because the environment is harsh, invariably the front line machines break down, which can result in breaches of their consent or EPA licenses as well as the expensive risk of filling too quickly and costly infrastructure because of careless use of airspace.” 

Renaud says that Select Civil always has backup equipment for all front line equipment.

As part of its local government foray, Select Civil and SUEZ work directly with Mackay Regional Council. SUEZ are contracted for waste transfer out to Hogan’s Pocket and landfilling, with Select Civil operating the landfill on behalf of SUEZ. 

Renaud says that its services has led to a reduction in cover usage and leachate control. In addition, Select Civil has installed Computer Aided Earthmoving System Global Positioning Systems on frontline equipment to manage lift heights and waste compaction. 

As an account manager to Select Civil, Ayden Piri, Industry Specialist-Account Manager Asia Pacific at Caterpillar Inc, says the company is one of the best performers in waste handling. 

“Minimising downtime is a key practice for them. One of the things they do well is use high end technology such as clean Tier-4 final engines, electric drive and transmission systems for better efficiencies and less pollution and contamination for the environment. 

“They also closely monitor compaction density, utilise GPS technology and train their operators the way Caterpillar really promotes.”