Sewage Waste to the Dinner Plate

The engineers behind a ground-breaking new waste company say their treatment of household and commercial organic waste – and even sewage sludge – will help fight the effects of drought, reduce river toxicity and supercharge crop growth.

UAG Bio Nutrient’s CEO Ben Connell said he’s excited that the organic fertiliser, produced using a unique, natural process, creates a nutrient-rich fertiliser that retains additional water.

“We plan to partner with councils and farmers to treat household and commercial organic waste and then provide them with fertiliser that holds an additional 160,000 litres of water per hectare,” said Connell.

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A UAG Bio Nutrient tank.

The process involves placing organic, household and treated sewage sludge in a sealed tank where it’s biologically treated.

The gases produced are converted into energy and the digestate is processed using a natural technology to produce organic fertiliser in liquid and solid forms.

“Because there is no odour produced during the process, our waste sites could be located in the Sydney CBD, without attracting odour complaints,” said Connell.  

Fact: Australians currently discard up to 20% of the food they purchase, which equates to 4 million tonnes of waste annually; or enough to fill 450,000 garbage trucks.

Connell is tight-lipped about all the details of the under-patent technology but he’s excited about the results.

“Our nutrient-rich, Class A, organic fertiliser can provide farmers and councils with a solution that results in the need for less maintenance of its lands or parks and sporting venues,” he said.

“It not only protects the soil from further dehydration, it helps restore nutrient depleted soils.”

Environmental Analysis Laboratory (EAL), a department of Southern Cross University in Lismore, tested UAG fertiliser against normal compost and found it superior by an average 50%.

Testing was based on key indicators including compost maturity, disease suppression and microbial balance.

The testing may explain why plants treated with UAG’s nutrient rich fertiliser grow 3 times the size of plants that are grown using traditional methods.

UAG bio nutrients growth result vs normal farming practices

Preventing the death of Australian waterways

A major water utility has also invited UAG Bio Nutrients to take part in a product improvement program to treat sewage biosolids to create organic fertiliser, which can be applied to land adjoining waterways without causing environmental or human harm.

“Nutrient run off, and other contaminants, polluting waterways and promoting the growth of toxic algae is contributing factor to fish deaths and the slow destruction of the Murray Darling River,” said Connell.

“Replacing chemical fertilisers with organic fertilisers is the first step toward reducing the leaching of toxic nutrients into our waterways,” he said.

If successful, the trial could mean hundreds of thousands of litres of biosolids will be treated where they are produced – rather than transported long distances – and the resulting organic fertiliser will be applied to lands adjoining waterways.

“Our organic fertiliser will prevent contaminants leaching into waterways,” he said.  

Process produces renewable energy

The group is also in negotiations with one of Australia’s largest family-owned wine company to construct and operate a waste processing plant on the site of its vineyards.

“They’re interested in providing us with their huge volumes of organic waste, including crushed grapes, and once it’s treated, reusing it on their crops,” said Connell.

“Our facility will also produce energy in the form of heat and power which can be used to reduce the business running costs, or to provide excess electricity which can be sold back to the grid.”

Billions in sales opportunities

Connell and the investors behind UAG Bio Nutrients have decades of experience in the waste and agricultural industries.

Chairman and founder John Barraclough is a seasoned agri-business operator, while Connell has served as the CEO of a Sydney waste facility and as infrastructure manager for a multi-national French-owned waste company.

The two have identified $2.7 billion in sales opportunities in Australia and have put keen interest from China on the back-burner, while they develop their Australian business.

Barraclough said that he’s also in confidential talks with several Australian councils who are keen to partner with UAG Bio Nutrients.

“They are excited at the prospect of reducing their waste costs and satisfying their ratepayer desires for a 100% environmentally friendly solution to waste disposal,” he said. “We tick all the boxes when it comes to council’s triple-bottom-line analysis.

The China Story

China recently announced a new 5-year-plan to reduce, and then eliminate, chemical fertiliser uses in agriculture.  The country faces the challenge of feeding their population of 1.4 billion.

UAG caught their attention and the firm’s founders were flown to Beijing and Shanghai to showcase their idea.

“The Chinese government officials were very interested, given their challenge to feed their population,” said Barraclough.

“However, we simply decided it’s prudent to grow our business in Australia and help our own countrymen, before going offshore,” he said.

A different kind of Greenhouse effect

A close up of a garden

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UAG’s founders also see a promising future in providing organic fertiliser, heat, power and carbon dioxide to greenhouses, where in the near future, much of the world’s food will be grown.

“We have a huge vision to feed the world, from waste to plate, healthily, profitably and sustainably,” said Barraclough.

A pitch to potential investors

Why investing in UAG Bio Nutrients will be immensely profitable.

  • Waste and organic farming is a recession-proof business
  • Councils can meet their triple bottom line expectations
  • Waste generation and the demand for power and food is increasing with population growth
  • There is a secure income stream from long-term contracts with local government for waste management and processing fees
  • Long-term power-purchase agreements are available with energy retailers
  • Long-term sale agreements are available for fertilisers in Australia and globally
  • Customers are shielded from increases in external costs, such as waste levies
  • Government waste levies drive more investment in waste treatment and recycling infrastructure
  • We appeal to farmers who want to increase crop yield and improve soil quality, leading to higher volumes of better-quality food
  • Australia now leads the world in organic farming
  • All our output products improve the viability and productivity of intensive agricultural activities, the fastest growing sector in Australia

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