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SOILCO and I Squared Capital join forces for organics growth

Soilco and I Squared

SOILCO is entering a new era, with I Squared Capital acquiring a controlling stake in the business. Managing Director, Charlie Emery, explains what it means for the future of the company.

Founded as a family-owned and operated business in New South Wales in 1974, organics processor SOILCO has undergone exciting change in the past six months. On 7 October 2021, international investors I Squared Capital acquired a controlling stake of SOILCO, with plans to invest up to $300 million towards growing the business.

Charlie Emery, SOILCO Managing Director says the investment presents an exciting new era for organics recycling infrastructure within Australia.

“I Squared Capital tend to focus on sustainable areas in the market including green energy, waste management and resource recovery sectors, as they see this as an attractive area of growth,” Charlie says. “SOILCO now has greater access to capital and an understanding of international technology trends. We have the opportunity to strengthen our established experience with similar international projects, providing a better understanding of how the waste industry is trending overseas.”

Charlie says the investment comes at an ideal time for organics processing. The New South Wales Government’s Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy 2041 mandates the inclusion of food and garden organics collections for councils by 2030. As a result, recent demand for organics processing facilities has increased significantly.

“With this increased capital we will be looking to purchase greenfield sites and develop them as organics processing facilities. We will also be looking at our existing network of facilities to optimise their operation,” Charlie says.

SOILCO designs, builds and operates organics recycling facilities with processing capabilities new to the Australian composting industry. The home-grown business is responsible for processing about 120,000 tonnes per annum of source separated organic waste. Its facilities in Kembla Grange, Nowra and Tweed Heads are already aiding councils with the shift from GO to FOGO recovery throughout New South Wales.

Plans are already well underway on another facility, in Sydney’s southwest.

SoilCo and I Squared

Exciting expansion 

Charlie says SOILCO’s proposed Sydney southwest site will sit on 4.5-hectares and will be a fully enclosed organics recycling facility, combining proven in-vessel composting experience with anaerobic digestion technology to break down organic matter into biogas and produce soil heath products.

“This facility will be known as a Clean Energy Compost Manufacturing Facility (or CECMF), given the different technology working side-by-side,” Charlie says.

“Our ambition is to create a net zero processing solution. The combination of source separated waste to energy and solar will make us a net zero energy user.”

SOILCO aims to attract the services of councils transitioning to FOGO collections in the Sydney area as the proposed NSW Government organics diversion mandates for council and commercial generators are introduced.

Charlie says the site will also reward the local community.

“We want to replicate the success from our other facilities in giving back processed compost to the councils who generate the waste in the first place,” he says. “We are looking at how we can use the waste heat from the process to add permaculture greenhouses at the Sydney southwest site. 

“We will engage the local community as part of these works with compost return and earn, as well as an education centre which is planned for the site.”

The southwest Sydney facility will harvest rainwater and capture stormwater, which will be used in the composting process. The planning and approval process commenced in early May 2022, briefing relevant local and state government agencies and preparing the environmental impact statement for the project. 

Consultations will be ongoing with local industry and community stakeholders including the proposed Western Sydney International Airport.

Charlie says that the experienced SOILCO project team has been able to commence early consultation. The management of the planning and approval pathway is an important internal process for the project.

“All the co-ordination for our environmental impact statements is done in-house alongside experienced specialist consulting firms. These are specialised facilities, and they require the relevant expertise of our existing sites,” he says. “We will be the ones managing these facilities prior to day one.”

SOILCO anticipates that approvals and full build will be completed in mid-2025.

Maintaining structure 

With more than 20 years’ experience in the business and 25 years in the industry, Charlie is mindful that it is important to retain the company’s family-owned values. As such, he will remain a shareholder with SOILCO and retain his existing management role.

He says SOILCO’s focus on quality service and products, which its long-standing clients are accustomed to, will not be affected by I Squared Capital’s multi-million dollar investment.

“It gives us the best of both worlds. We retain our knowledge and quality-oriented approach, which is invaluable, while also now having the capital to take our offerings further,” he says.  

For more information, visit: www.soilco.com.au

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