Arne og his daughter Sara are running Backlund Ecology a somewhat unusual company regarding history, what we are working with and how we do it.
Arne Backlund started the company together with his father Berndt Backlund in 1986 focusing on Textile- and Garment Industry machines and Optimized Rational Handling Systems for streams of materials as fabrics from the start to the end through the factory reducing waste.
Arne is our expert advisor and very passionate in sustainable - ecological sanitation and responding toilets and toilet systems and he is the one advising our customers - from an allotment garden to another advisor or supplier about in a good sustainable solution to pick the right coming toilet or toilet system and/or composting or anaerobic fermenting unit.
We participate in many projects and are advicing in big and small, private and public, companies, organizations and authorities regarding water saving sustainable handling of metabolic streams of material from plate to soil through toilet solutions, composting and anaerobic fermentation. Multifunctional Energy Willow Plantations and On-Site Zero Discharge Energy Willow Wastewater Evapotranspiration Systems are also very important among our activities.
Passionate about Metabolism and a Metabolic
Specialist in Ecological/Sustainable Sanitation
Marketing, Sales and so much more vital work in and outside the company
A & B Backlund ApS obtained big orders in a really great cooperation with primarily Danish and Swedish machinery suppliers especially in GDR and Poland in the period and experience from the export of system export, handling streams of materials and working in a very special economical and political system is still a part of Backlund Ecology presentation and lecturing. Looking forward It was also a privilege to get such opportunities to look into the Eastern Europe's regulatory systems' negative influence on the quality of products and environment even with partly production equipment of high standard and qualified workers in the textile and garment industry. It was sad to watch the untapped potential.
To be allowed to be a part of designing and optimizing processes and progress to establish a more sustainable handling of materials - from materials to ready made clothes - from yarn and fabrics to cloths and home textiles was an interesting and giving experience coming to play an important role in later work in other areas (sanitation, toilets, wastewater, wastewater treatment, pee & poo)
We learned about the consequences of problematic regulatory systems and bad economy without access to supply of good high quality raw materials, lack of good design, bad sales channels and lack of focus on environmental problems.
Beside marketing, sales of machinery and systems together with consultancy it was very exciting to contribute to innovation regarding:
It was a privilege as a representative to so many leading Scandinavian textile and garment machinery producers - not only to contribute to sales successes but also to contribute to work out and think out optimized processes eg. from shirt fabrics to ready sewed and packed shirt - where the ready shirt was at the center and the goal but with considerations about side effects as waste, bad working environment and more.
Berndt already from the 1960ties and Arne from 1986 learned so much from our customers and people working in the textile and garment industry. They could explain their technical as well as market difficulties - often very difficult or even hopeless market difficulties - many of the technical difficulties we could forward to the machinery producers to improve existing and to innovate new common solutions.
Such a great feeling later at exhibitions to take part presenting improvements and new solutions that some of the customers had given important input to. At the exhibitions we felt connected and at best with some as a part of the same family having lunch together in one of six meeting and negotiation cabins with trustful and long sighted working together was at the center.
The challenge was that due to political and economical limitations the full potential could not be met. Textile and garment industry in GDR could not afford to buy enough spare parts and most factories had only access to low quality materials from USSR or controlled by them and this combined with lack of good designers caused a situation where I had the opportunity together with one of the organisations to calculate that they worst case could not even sell the ready made clothes to the price of materials used in the production process A lot of products was as countertrade “sold” to absolutely spot prices as the machine suppliers put it on their prices afterwards reselling to Austria and BRD. Systems and time was not the right in order to implement ecology and sustainability like starting up now and hopefully accelerating - if we want a planetary future for humans.
We were picked up and driven around in a “Trabbi” (Trabant) or a Wartburg car and people from the companies we represented were so often stunned by the high education and knowledge of the one driving us and even now and then with more knowledge about nordic history. From a very privileged we were allowed in more than glimpses to look into not only the technical systems but also political and economical regular systems
In many conversations from concierge to minister we got different approaches and pieces to a bigger picture of a dysfunctional system where very often highly skilled people could not realize their full potential for a better common future. A breakdown seemed pre-programmed.
Even the best machinery would not be able to compensate for bad materials and bad design. Too often wrong materials caused bad products only to be disposed of in sales as mentioned before paying extra for import.
Often not able to buy spare parts it was so impressive to find workers producing some of them themselves with great skills
With our interest in regulatory frameworks and systems and behavioral consequences it was also interesting to look into our own contracts with suppliers. Among interesting findings was a contract stating values up to 1 million DKK giving 10 % provision but with just 1 DKK higher from 1 million DKK reduced to 5 % of the total sum. A discount of or price setting down or more sales of 1 DKK could result in up to 50.000 DKK more or less - DDR was not the only somewhat strange regulatory system.
With experience from streams of materials and political and economic systems in Eastern Europe we left working in an undermined plan economy and we started working with water and wastewater solutions primarily in “The 5 New Federal States” now as a part of a reunified Germany.
Work and a very large machinery system export to primarily GDR was now replaced by a new and even much larger system export to primarily the same geographical area - but at the same time a transition from one sub optimal organization and regulation to another - and now with much larger amounts at stake - in German “Gefundenes fressen” waiting for investments related to water and wastewater in a period of 20 year of 600 billions DKK.
Consulting and system export of technology, building technical systems & plants and running water supply and wastewater treatment including sewers and wastewater treatment plants primarily in “The 5 New Federal States” in the period 1989 - 1993.
From GDR to a part of Germany- From “Trabbi” to Mercedes solutions
Changes in economic and political conditions in the former GDR enables transfer of very large subsidies to solve environmental problems in “The 5 New Federal States” Due to our long time experience and connections working in the area we are contacted by companies wanting to supply environmental solutions. Our focus changed from production of clothes and streams of materials to streams of materials related to supply of fresh water and wastewater treatment with world leading Danish technology and among others organized in a public-private cooperation establishing a company together to build and operate or as a BOT (build-operate-take over) project.
A & B Backlund ApS are representing or cooperating with the Danish environmental company Krügers (today Krüger-Veolia) shared German company Krüger-Hölter and got a very good cooperation with their office in Frankfurt Am Main. We are also cooperating with J.R.K. (Danish company with wastewater treatment solutions to among others textile dye factories) even earlier and later the Swedish companies PURAC AB and VBB AB.
Representing Krügers German company generated a very large system export with the largest contract at that time at a value of more than 1 billion DKK. A project together with others highlighted in Danish newspapers due to size and economic importance for Danish environmental industries.
Most important were two projects organizing water supply and wastewater sewer transport and wastewater treatment in a “Kooperationsmodell Märkische Schweiz” and a BOT project regarding building and operating a wastewater treatment plant “Kurzbetreibermodell Stadt Altenburg”
Working with wastewater treatment solutions third stage biological treatment processes regarding N (Nitrogen) and P (Phosphorous) before often weak water recipients were central.
Again we had a lot of travel activities - Arne was now travelling up to 100 - 150 days a year - organizing and participating in a lot of arrangements and visiting a lot of water organizations, municipalities and towns. We also organized reference visits for potential german customers in Denmark and even with representatives from a german ministry.
Huge subsidies counting billions of DKK were directed to support building sewers and wastewater treatment plants and the longer, weider and more complicated sewage system to be built the more subsidies with an even growing percentage. It was very interesting to have an inside look into the process of planning, engineering, tendering and decision making about who was the winner with which solution and the arguments for decision making. With so many billions DKK at stake to certain areas and solutions a lot of money was available for acquisition in the market and competition could be imagined reduced in tenders.
It was difficult to work against very expensive often over dimensioned and over centralized approaches to transport and “treatment” of wastewater. Some of us started calling it “Mercedes solutions'' based on the fact that you often in the country could consider the need of a car (long and costly sewer wastewater transport) and instead investigate establishing more on-site local and simple solutions. Together with the Norwegian company Biovac AS we tried to introduce and implement small local on-site wastewater treatment plants and with the Swedish company VBB AB we tried to promote simple on-site local filtering solutions.
Arne started to talk about that in these regulatory systems everybody from engineers and architects through decision makers to citizens as well as users were turned into “Animalia Cloaca” living from and with the sewers. We have in later guest lectures reflected on our experience with regulatory systems like HOAI (Honorarordnung für Architekten und Ingenieure) paying a fixed percentage of the total amount and subsidy systems in combination with standards supporting the so called “Mercedes solutions” (That could be considered as answers to wrong questions) neither motivating and securing regarding handling of nutrients or best possible prices for severs or waste water treatment plants. Interesting to consider if those mechanisms have also been and are present in other geographical areas and sectors. Unnecessary complicated and more expensive solutions pay better and are often referred due to subsidies and barriers to more inexpensive, more simple solutions and/or more sustainable solutions.
Some further questions important for the later approach:
The question about recycling nutrients to agriculture we started looking at and finding some answers to in the period - first working with concepts using Multifunctional Energy Willow from 1989/1990 and then also working with diverting toilets collecting and recycling nutrients from 1993/1994 working to find alternative solutions in handling nutrients from table to soil (pee & poo from toilets) as resources (fertilizer & soil amendment) and not as waste.
A clue was focusing on streams of materials like in the earlier period - now that human beings metabolism with the rest of nature not by nature was one of sewer animals and monotremes. That humans had two outlets (pee & poo) and that humans with two outlets (pee & poo) not without reflection should construct toilets with only one inlet, sewage and wastewater treatment plants but rethink and reinvent toilets to combine convenience with collecting fertilizer, energy and soil amendment. Sewage transport and “treatment” was not given by nature.
More about Backlund Ecology history from 1993 is upcoming