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Urban Sprawl Claims Riverstone Business

Family and Australian-owned retail and wholesale butchers AJ Bush & Sons, is closing its Riverstone protein recovery plant after 70 years, as the once semi-rural area is transformed by new housing estates.

In February this year the company was fined $15,000 and given an official caution for failing to appropriately store raw animal product, in breach of a condition of their Environment Protection Licence.

The EPA received more than 220 odour complaints in September and October last year from residents in the surrounding suburbs.

Cameron Bush, Head of Rendering at the plant’s operating company Bush’s Proteins, made the closure announcement last week (16th April) saying the build-up of residential development and the impending release of land in the area for more housing made it impossible for it to operate as a business.

“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,” he said.

The site is set on 33 hectares. He said the company voluntarily reduced operations in December last year over resident concerns about odours which added to financial pressures.

Bush Protein Riverstone Urban Sprawl Claims Riverstone Business

“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,” he said. “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.”

All AJ Bush’s collection, aggregation and processing is being phased out and will cease by the end of May. A handful of staff will be retained at Riverstone to manage the wind down and decommissioning of the site. The site’s processing equipment will be decommissioned and removed. Some of the processing equipment may be utilised at the company’s other meat by-product protein recovery plant in Beaudesert, Queensland.

The company has said it will honour all existing sponsorships with local sporting clubs, communities services and agricultural organisations.

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 company has spent almost six months looking at other business models for the collection service and not found a workable one.

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

The company said 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.

A spokesperson for the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) said the authority was working with the owners to ensure the site is appropriately decommissioned.

“A meeting between government and industry representatives has been set up to discuss how to best support local businesses impacted by the closure,” she said

Bev Jordan

Bev Jordan studied journalism at Harlow College in the UK.  She achieves a Diploma in Journalism from the National Council for the Training of Journalists. After migrating to Australia at the end of 1984, she took up a Senior Journalist position with Cumberland Newspapers, based on the Parramatta Advertiser. She has since worked on the Daily Telegraph, Sydney Morning Herald and was a lecturer in Journalism at Macleay College in Sydney. Bev returned to Cumberland Newspapers (NewsLocal) and worked for 30 years covering all different mastheads, including Mosman Daily, Mount Druitt Standard and finally Hills Shire Times for the last 17 of those years. Bev’s passion has always been local community journalism.  She says “As a journalist, I have always seen it as my job to inform, inspire and involve.  I am a passionate advocate for organisations and people making a difference to the world around them. Connectedness is so important to the health of an individual but also to a community, no matter how small or large.

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