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AJ Bush winds down its Riverstone plant due to housing growth

Aj Bush &Amp; Sons
Founder mr. Alfred john bush’s first butcher shop in 1909 © aj bush & sons

AJ Bush & Sons is winding down its Riverstone protein recovery plant after 70 years, as mentioned in its notice on Tuesday, 16 April 2024.

The family and Australian-owned retail and wholesale butchers and meat by-product rendering company cites “urban encroachment and a difficult economy”, which led the company to arrive at the decision.

Cameron Bush, the Head of Rendering at the plant’s operating company Bush’s Proteins, mentioned that “a build-up of residential development and the impending release of land in the area for more housing make it impossible for it to remain.”

Mr Bush said: “The facility in Sydney’s north-west is now losing a substantial amount of money.”

“In fact, aggregation of by-products alone at the Riverstone site is now costing the business up to $100,000 per week.”

“No family-owned business can sustain that for an extended period of time.”

“These financial pressures have only increased since we voluntarily reduced operations in December last year, due to urban encroachment and resident concerns about odours.”

“Regrettably, about 30 plant employees will be made redundant, along with impacting some subcontractors who will lose our business after working with us for many years.”

According to the company, all AJ Bush’s collection, aggregation and processing will be phased out and cease by the end of May. The site’s processing equipment will be decommissioned and removed.

“It’s a difficult decision for a family company to make as we’ve been a part of the community since the 1950s, but Riverstone is no longer a semi-rural fringe suburb,” Mr Bush said.

“The tide of urban development and some tough economics have made the decision for us.”

“A handful of staff will be retained at Riverstone to manage the wind down and decommissioning of the site.”

“All existing sponsorships we have with local sporting clubs, communities services and agricultural organisations will be honoured.”

Mr Bush said there would be no impact on other parts of the group, and some of the processing equipment could be utilised at its other meat by-product protein recovery plant in Beaudesert, Queensland.

Aj Bush &Amp; Son'S Meat Truck In Islington, Newcastle
One of aj bush & sons meat truck photographed at islington, newcastle © aj bush & sons

Bush’s Proteins has been collecting meat industry by-products free-of-charge from retailers and processors in Greater Sydney and NSW surrounds for many years. The meat by-product rendering company mentioned that, with the plant no longer operating, that service will undergo a staged cessation from mid-May.

Bush’s Proteins mentioned it has spent almost six months finding other business models for its collection service, such as charging a fee for pick-ups. However, this has been found to be unviable in the current economic climate.

In September 2000, the processing site became one of the first in Australia to install covered anaerobic ponds to capture biogas, which allowed it to convert from coal-fired boilers to natural gas and biogas.

This continues today and before closing, the plant was using biogas in offsetting over 10% of its gas consumption. Rendering has been one of the leaders in Circular Economy business models, taking animal by-products and returning protein, fats/oils and biogas back into the economy.

Bush’s Proteins will continue to work with the Environmental Protection Agency to responsibly manage the wind down.

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