Too good to waste. Stefan Lengel started in the waste processing business as an enthusiastic entrepreneur with a staff of just one in 1988. Today, Lengel GmbH has branches throughout eastern Austria as the country's compost industry continues to flourish.

In 1955, Stefan Lengel's parents built a landscape gardening and lawn turf manufacturing business from scratch. Stefan began working for the family company as a young boy and soon turned his attention to processing the waste that accumulated from the business's activities. Before long, he was old enough to branch out on his own and that's how Lengel GmbH started. Today, biological waste from gardens, parks and cemeteries, as well as rootstocks, earth, leaves, grass clippings and fruits and vegetables is processed in the Schwadorf composting plant, near Vienna. This results in about 20,000t per year of high quality compost in accordance with the Austrian Compost Ordinance legislation. But Stefan is not resting on his laurels (or should that be leaves?). In order to meet future waste management requirements, he is investing in sophisticated machinery systems and technologies to ensure Lengel remains a leader in composting.


Comprising a decomposing partnership

One product Stefan is confident Lengel is making a wise investment in is Volvo's wheel loaders. Lengel has been using loaders in its composting business for the past four years. After trials with equipment from a number of different manufacturers, Stefan decided to settle with Volvo's loading and handling machines because of their fuel consumption rates and performance values - and after learning how impressed the operators at Lengel were during the tests with the Volvo equipment. Stefan's first purchase was a Volvo L90E, which was followed by two more wheel loaders of the same size and the recent purchase of a fourth Volvo machine in the F-Series, ordered from the MAWEV 2009 construction equipment show. The new F Series fleet of medium duty general purpose wheel loaders  boast greater maneuverability, power, productivity, flexibility and reliability than the models in the E Series, which they effectively replace. F Series machines are great all-rounders that are easy to operate in tight spaces and can quickly swap tools to suit fast changing application demands on site. Their ideal power and size suit customers everywhere - particularly Lengel. "We have had very satisfactory experiences with Volvo in the past few years," says Stefan. "Volvo customer support agreements ensure that we can always keep track of costs." 

Business is blooming

In a boon for Austria's waste management industry, a new composting plant will open in the city of Markgrafneusiedl in September, next to a biogas plant, which was built in 2004. Representatives from composting associations in Hungary, Switzerland and Slovenia are expected to use this facility, as well as the Austrian Compost & Biogas Association, with which Lengel has a close working relationship. The new composting plant, with aerated decomposition piles, together with the existing biogas plant, will constitute one of the most modern plants in Austria. Around 30,000t of waste will be processed there each year. The gas plant produces 400KW/h of electricity, which is used by Wien Energie, a company of Wiener Stadtwerke (Vienna Public Utilities). The heat is also used for operational heating and pasteurisation. The new composting plant will help to further cement Austria's position as world leader in successful waste processing practices and products.


What recession?

Fortunately, the current economic crisis has had only a minor impact on Lengel. Unlike many industries, the compost sector has remained relatively unaffected by the global recession. While bio-waste has decreased slightly, garden waste volumes remain at the same level. As a result, Lengel has exciting plans for expansion. The traditional composting sector now also includes horticulture and landscaping, earth work and various other services, which Stefan would like to take advantage of in keeping with the company's motto; 'Good by Nature'. "Despite the general weak economic situation, in the next few years we want to improve our earth disposal, launch new products in the market and expand our operational area eastwards," says Stefan.


Text: Elizabeth Tilley