Alan Wright, Biomas Solutions

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Coffs Coast locals will remember the fire that engulfed Biomass Solutions in July last year. One year on, Alan Wright, Sales Manager of Biomass, invited FOCUS out to see how the plant has recovered and to chat about the amazing processes that take place to make the organic renewables.

Hi Alan. Can you tell us a bit about what Biomass Solutions does?

Biomass Solutions (Coffs Harbour) Pty Ltd is a world leading alternate waste treatment facility that is unique in being able to process three waste streams under the one roof. Through autoclaving technology and advanced composting processes, we are able to process well over 50,000 tonnes of material per annum, with an incredible diversion rate from landfill of over 72%. When combined with the recycling facility at Handybin Waste Services, the diversion rate from landfill on the whole site is over 80%, which is fantastic for the community.

Biomass Solutions is an amazing facility. Can you give our readers a brief overview of the compost you provide to consumers and local farmers?

Compost from Biomass Solutions is produced from the organics collected from the three Council local government areas (Coffs Harbour, Bellingen and Nambucca). It is composted through an agitated compost bay system, that significantly speeds up the composting process and produces compost free of weed seeds and pathogens and meets Australian Standards.

Education on the environment is key to the red bin, yellow bin and green bin process. Can you tell our readers about the most common error we make with our waste?

Contamination is a significant and ongoing issue in the waste streams; one plastic bag in the green bin can turn into hundreds of smaller pieces of contamination; one glass bottle in the green bin can shatter and go into the compost products, causing problems. If people could just take a bit more time and ensure the right thing goes in the right bin, it makes it easier for all of us.

Last July, your business unfortunately had quite a significant fire. Can you tell us a bit about this?

A fire in the building’s ducting system caused extensive damage to major areas of the facility. This caused the plant to be shut down for over 10 months, whilst repairs were completed.

Your business was fortunate to keep all staff on while the plant was shut down. How did you achieve that?

Our staff have always been loyal to us, and we believed it was the right thing to do by returning the favour. We made a commitment very early on to keep all staff gainfully employed, and the benefits were being able to start up again with staff trained, committed, and ready to go.

It has been a long process getting the plant back up to full functioning capabilities, due to waiting on equipment from overseas. During the plant shutdown after the fire, what did your staff do?

Through help with Coffs Council and the local Environmental Protection Authority, we were able to keep staff employed in open windrow composting on the Coffs Harbour landfill site. Other staff were utilised by helping with fire repairs, others with painting and cleaning tasks within the facility, and some staff were able to assist with other associated waste companies during the shut down period.

Biomass Solutions has worked with a lot of local trades to get back on track. Who have you worked with and would like to thank?

We made a commitment to source all the work we could locally, and we have always had loyal tradesmen who have been available for us at all hours should we need help. Particular mention should go to the Piggott Electrical Team, Advanced Pumping and Irrigation, Steeline, Lysaght, Coates Hire, Kennards Hire, JCB Creations, Coffs Coast Fibreglass, Harbourside Refrigeration, Hawkins on Fire and North Coast Cranes, but many other local businesses were also involved in a huge rebuild. A special thanks also to the three Councils, Coffs Harbour, Bellingen and Nambucca, who were sympathetic and understanding during this difficult period.

It’s probably not often said, but our insurers have also been a huge help and assisted throughout the entire process.

Thanks Alan.

Biomass Solutions’ composts are a fantastic product for your garden. Whether it be flowers, trees, lawn, fruit and vegetables or commercial applications, your garden can benefit greatly from using our composts throughout the entire year … But in particular, with the garden season fast approaching, a good dose of compost now will ensure you’re the envy of the neighbourhood. We have many regular customers who are thrilled with the results of our products and often comment it is the best value garden product they have ever used. Our site is open seven days a week, 365 days a year between 8am and 4pm, and we sell compost by the bag, trailer, ute, small and large trucks and can also organise delivery to anywhere locally or throughout the state. Our standard compost product sells for $30 for a trailer/ute (1 m³) and reduces to $24 for quantities over 10 m³. Our compost plus product sells for $40 for a trailer/ute (1 m³) and reduces to $35 for quantities over 10 m³. Our friendly staff are always willing to help with customer orders, and our sales team can be contacted on (02) 6691 8000 or 0428 116 589.

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