Synagro: Community partnerships and commitment to sustainability

Companies and cities across the US are seeking innovative solutions to meet their waste management needs. Synagro is leading the way with a customer-centric approach.

In just a few years, Synagro, an EQT Infrastructure II portfolio company, has quickly transformed from a slow-growth enterprise into a leading provider of biosolids waste management solutions in North America. Looking ahead, Synagro is well-positioned for future growth – the goal is to become the go-to partner for “green” waste management solutions. With a range of promising initiatives for spurring growth internally as well as the potential for additional strategic acquisitions, Synagro has exciting future potentials. 

Synagro is one of US’ top providers of biosolids and residuals solutions, serving over 600 municipal and industrial water facilities across 34 states and Canada.

“With EQT, we have a supportive, long-term owner focused on responsible investing – a critical virtue for a business like ours as we provide municipalities with essential services”, says Steve Cole, Chief Executive Officer of Synagro. “We are able to completely focus on serving the expanding needs of our business partners with more efficient solutions”.

Creating sustainable value

Synagro’s customer-centric approach is a differentiator versus peers, encouraging municipalities and business organizations to sign long-term contracts. This secures a more stable cash flow for Synagro and enables planning for strategic acquisitions.

In late 2016, Synagro made its first venture into the international arena. “We have partnered with the city of Hamilton, Canada to design, build, finance, and operate a new biosolids facility, which will provide Hamilton with a long-term, sustainable biosolids management program and further opportunities for technological innovation,” Steve Cole continues. “The technology will stem from the facility’s thermal drying capabilities that process the municipality’s wet biosolids into pellets to be used as Grade A biosolids”. As defined by the Environmental Protection Agency, Grade A biosolids are biosolids of the topmost quality, which can be used in unrestricted ways such as lawn fertilizer, agricultural supplements, or renewable fuel.

Prior to Hamilton, Synagro completed the acquisition of Nursery Products – its first acquisition under EQT ownership. The addition of Nursery Products has bolstered Synagro’s composting strategy in the critically important Southern California market, where previous to Nursery Products, wastewater plants trucked their wet biosolids hundreds of miles away for processing, a necessary but costly recycling initiative. Today, Synagro’s local composting returns much of the Grade A output right back to the Southern Californian soils to restore drought and wildfire damaged land. Plus, the organic waste diverted from landfills drastically reduces greenhouse emissions. With Nursey Products, Synagro’s portfolio of facilities for multiple organic waste streams, like food waste, is stronger, which ultimately better caters the varied needs of the communities Synagro serves.

A trusted community partner

Another milestone was the contract with The Green Knight Economic Development Corp. (GKEDC). They searched for 17 years to find the right partner who would not only share their dedication to the community, but also meet its high demand for innovation at Grand Central Landfill in Pennsylvania. The landfill is operated by Waste Management and GKEDC converts the landfill gas into electricity. Synagro in turn, will harness wasted heat from the Green Knight Energy Center to operate a new state of the art dryer facility.

The USD 20 million “smart recycling” initiative demonstrating fruitful cooperation among Synagro, GKEDC, and Waste Management aims to process and recycle nearly 150,000 tons of wastewater solids per year, or about 6% of total wastewater Pennsylvania churns out annually. The partnership is a natural pairing of top North American leaders in environmental services.

Societal license to operate

But running an effective recycling business is just one piece of the puzzle. Synagro knows that being the preferred partner requires a commitment to serving the community as a fellow member. Civic outreach is an integral aspect of Synagro’s DNA, and part of their societal license to operate.

Synagro is dedicated to giving back, through the creation of local jobs, environmental stewardship, agricultural incentives, food bank donations, and other means of supporting a greener, cleaner world. Synagro collaborates with residents and their local elected officials to achieve its societal goals.

Looking ahead

Synagro is building off its recent growth and innovation to become the “green” biosolids company in North America. With a commitment to becoming the most innovative specialized service provider of sustainable solutions for biosolids and beyond, Synagro plans to achieve these goals by continuing to do what has worked so well already — serving communities in a transparent and collaborative manner—while investing in new projects and solutions for the future.

“Synagro is providing crucial services for municipalities and industries, and EQT is fully supportive to invest additional capital in the pipeline for growth, both organically and through new acquisitions”, says Stefan Glevén, Partner and investment advisor at EQT Partners.

Synagro is a powerful example of how EQT serves as a responsible and valued partner in developing and investing in North American municipalities. Guiding EQT’s focus in this space is a commitment to sustainability, the environment, and the desire to benefit society by serving the local communities that partner with EQT-owned companies, and ultimately improve the quality of life for the citizens they serve.