ACCORDING to government statistics, the UK generates around 222.9 million tonnes of waste each year. It’s an alarming figure, but there is hope. The so-called ‘Blue Planet’ effect, which has gained momentum since Sir David Attenborough’s series first aired, has driven the zero-waste agenda front and centre.
People at every level of society, from consumers to politicians and business leaders are now far more conscious of the need for us to reduce the volume of waste that we produce and discharge into the environment, often with terrible consequences.
For two North-east businessmen, this was one of the key drivers in launching their own business. Having formerly worked together in the energy sector, Grant Leslie and John Jones joined forces to launch SEM in 2016, with third Director Sandy Beveridge joining them in 2018, to head up the engineering team whilst developing new global patents. The Aberdeen based firm works with clients across a range of industrial sectors, using new technologies to deliver innovative water treatment solutions, process co-products from waste streams, and create operational efficiencies.
This year SEM has seen an increased appetite for their suite of environmentally responsible technological solutions from clients in the energy sector, agriculture, marine and distilleries. This success has been reflected financially, with them achieving a 6-figure turnover, a 32% increase in revenue from 2018-2019.
In the past year, SEM has also secured a seven-figure sum of investment, which they have drawn down to support both R&D of new technologies and continuing growth opportunities.
Chief Operating Officer, Grant Leslie, explains: “Both John and I wanted to run a business that would have sustainability at its core, long before this became a buzzword. We are passionate about partnering with our clients to support the evolution of a zero-waste, circular economy, where people, the environment and business can flourish together. This year we have experienced a change from people being interested in the subject, to them taking steps to start implementing change in their business and sector.”
With further scaling plans already in place, the firm now employs 21 people from different backgrounds in a variety of roles from engineering and technology to sales and operations.
Their expansion hasn’t been confined to the UK however; SEM’s global presence has grown dramatically in the last year. Following increased interest in their technologies in the Middle East, the firm has expanded into the region, securing contracts with companies from the food and drink sector, as well as municipalities and safari parks. The Netherlands has also proved to be fruitful, with SEM making inroads into both the agricultural and industrial markets.
The firm’s ground-breaking technologies – several of which are patented – tackle industry critical challenges. SEM’s team work closely with their industry partners to fully understand the issues they grapple with and develop solutions to address these effectively, sustainably, and without impacting on production.
One example is the processing and treatment of increasing volumes of waste streams. SEM’s de-watering technology can often produce new, saleable products from those waste streams. Their team of in-house scientists and engineers is currently developing several new de-watering technologies for processing organic slurries across the agriculture and food and drink industries.
And 2020 looks to be an even brighter year for the firm with further investment, to the sum of seven figures, to support the development of new technology and the overall growth of the business.
CEO John Jones, said, “We are planning to launch more investment opportunities in a bid to further enhance our offerings to the global market-place. This investment will also support exciting plans to further develop our suite of pioneering technologies in the field of waste treatment, water filtration and co-product creation.”
Mr Jones continues: “We go into 2020 with a strong track-record that mirrors our ambitious vision. We are extremely proud that our business is working hard to help other businesses achieve their potential while minimising the impact of waste on our environment.”