Sortera is a complete environmental service provider, and is one of the largest and leading niche providers of construction and industrial waste solutions in Sweden. Sortera 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). The company primarily operates through geographic hubs in Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö. Sortera also operates under the brands BIG BAG, Åkerisäcken, EnvyTech and MTIB.
Key developments in 2019
During 2019 Sortera experienced solid top-line performance with 4% growth full year despite tougher market conditions in the Swedish newbuild market (-12% growth in Stockholm construction market), supporting the thesis on counter cyclicality and refurbishment exposure in Sortera. New innovative methods for water treatment were also tested during 2019.
New regions, Gothenburg and Malmö, delivered strong growth, validating the Sortera concept outside Stockholm. The focus for 2019 was to integrate the eight add-ons completed during Summa’s ownership, as well as strengthening the management team and organization.
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.
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, with recycling sites as well as soil and water treatment services in Stockholm, Gothenburg, Helsingborg and Malmö. The company benefits 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 1.7 million tons of waste in 2019, across energy recovery, material recovery and backfilling operations. 97% of materials handled are recovered through one of these avenues. Sortera’s operations result in potential CO2-equivalent avoidance of 32k tons yearly, when adjusted for its emissions in Scopes 1-3. This is equivalent to not using 74k barrels of oil or taking 7k passenger vehicles off the road for a year.
If Sortera didn’t exist…
Without Sortera’s services, the need for extraction of raw materials could be higher, putting increased strain on finite resources. Extractive processes are also carbonintensive, meaning GHG emissions would be higher. The recycling rate of materials in the building sector would be lower and result in more waste going to 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 landfill 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 143 large trucks and several industrial facilities. These give the company a significant environmental footprint which lessens the net positive impact of its recovery efforts. In order to minimize the environmental impact of the trucks, Sortera currently keeps the average fleet age below three years. A last important risk is related to HSEQ, due to working with heavy machinery and equipment. In order to mitigate the risk, Sortera continuously focuses on having good HSEQ routines and guidelines.