Sortera was exited to Nordic Capital March 2021
Sortera at a glance
Sortera is a complete environmental services provider and one of the leading niche providers of construction and industrial waste solutions in the Nordics. The company is divided into three business areas: Recycling (construction recycling services), Industry (Industrial cleaning, excavation, pressure washing etc.) and Materials (handling of heavy masses and water treatment).
Sortera is currently active across Sweden and Finland, with sites in Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö and Helsinki. The company also operates under the brands BIG BAG, Åkerisäcken, Vaihtolavacom, EnvyTech and MTIB.
Key developments in 2020
During 2020, group revenues grew by 12% vs. 2019, with growth across all divisions and limited impact of Covid-19. Sortera also closed two add- on acquisitions in 2020: Vaihtolavacom and W.A.C. Recycling. Vaihtolavacom is a Helsinki based construction recycling services company and was Sortera’s first acquisition outside of Sweden. W.A.C Recycling, handles industrial waste in southern Sweden, further strengthening the Materials Division.
In Q1 2020, the Deputy CEO took over the role as CEO, while the former CEO transitioned into the role as senior advisor to the firm and remained asmember of the Board.
New sustainability reporting standards and systems have also been implemented during the year, in addition to the recruitment of a Head of Sustainability.
The challenges we face
While resource scarcity is a growing challenge and GHG emissions are rising globally, the European construction sector generates ~30% of all European waste, requires substantial raw material extraction and causes high GHG emissions. As a result, the European Commission has implemented measures to increase industry recycling levels, meaning that construction firms must take actions now to meet the new requirements.
Sortera has worked to track and improve ESG targets since they published their first Sustainability Report in 2017. At that time, they defined a long-term goal for 100% of their handled waste to be recycled or reused. 4 years later they have nearly reached their goal as 98% of the waste is recovered. They have aligned their ESG goals with the UN SDGs, which include targets to increase diversity in their organization and to increase their positive impact on the environment.
What is the outcome?
Through its operations, Sortera is collecting, sorting, recycling and processing materials to help facilitate a circular economy. The company’s services enable increased use of old materials in new construction, reducing the need for virgin materials and hence GHG emissions. The part of Sortera providing maintenance services (such as maintenance of heating plants, sewers etc.) contributes to longer life spans of these basic societal functions. Sortera also works with soil remediation and water treatment, continuously adopting innovative solutions within this field. This helps reduce the environmental debt for future generations.
Who are the stakeholders?
Sortera is active across Sweden and Finland, with recycling sites as well as soil and water treatment services in Stockholm, Gothenburg, Helsinki, and Malmö. The company's services benefit the local environment and communities by reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and helps the planet through reduced need for extraction of primary materials. The latter results in significant avoidance of GHG emissions. To its customers in the construction industry, Sortera offers increased flexibility, high reliability, short lead times, excellent quality, and great customer service.
How big is the effect, and does it last?
Sortera handled 1.6 million tons of waste in 2020, across energy recovery, material recovery and backfilling operations. 98% of materials handled are recovered through one of these avenues. Sortera’s operations result in CO2-equivalent avoidance of 66.6k tons yearly. This is equivalent to not using 154k barrels of oil or taking 14k passenger vehicles off the road for a year.
If Sortera didn’t exist…
Without Sortera’s services, extraction of raw materials could be higher, putting increased strain on finite resources. Extractive processes are also carbon- intensive, meaning GHG emissions would be higher. The recycling rate of materials in the building sector would be lower and result in more waste goingto landfills instead of being recovered. Without Sortera there would also be less efficiently treated land and water. Basic elements of societal infrastructure, such as sewers and heating plants, would not be maintained as efficiently.
Impact risk: what can go wrong?
Efficient recycling or reuse of waste is contingent upon the quality of received materials. High quality materials have value and can be traded for profit,whereas low quality materials may end up in landfills and incur costs to the company and the environment. Managing the inflows and improving processes is therefore critical to the sustainability of the business model. In addition, Sortera operates 150 large trucks and several industrial facilities. These contribute to a significant environmental footprint which lessens the net positive impact of its recovery efforts. To minimize the environmental impact of the trucks, Sortera currently keeps the average fleet age below four years. A last important risk is related to HSEQ, due to working with heavy machinery and equipment. To mitigate the risk, Sortera continuously focuses on having good HSEQ routines and guidelines.