TWM Group is making high-quality drinking water using nothing but sunlight and air

by PNG Business News - November 21, 2021

Papua New Guinea is known for its beautiful surroundings, rich wildlife, and cultures and communities as diverse as the more than 800 native languages spoken in the country. But despite abundant natural resources and recent economic development, nearly 40 percent of the country’s 8.5 million people still have no access to human beings’ most fundamental need: clean, safe drinking water.

It’s an issue that impacts the health of Papua New Guinea’s people, and their prosperity.

Most of the country’s rural population drinks from unsafe sources such as surface water and piped or well water that is exposed to contaminants. In remote communities cut off from the rest of the country and with little to no infrastructure, finding clean, safe water to drink can be a daily struggle, with women and girls often walking over harsh and rugged terrain to collect water for their families. Many businesses and families alike are forced to buy water from distributors, usually in single-use plastic bottles and always at a premium price.

One of those businesses is TWM Group, a Papua New Guinea-owned business with operations around the country, including in remote locations.

With over 130 experienced, full-time staff in metropolitan and remote locations across the region, TWM Group delivers world-class waste and environmental services for PNG- based industries, including the petroleum, mining, industrial and commercial sector. Since its inception in 2011, the company has prioritised innovation, safety, service excellence, sustainability and social good.

“Sustainability is the heart of our business, but with minimal safe and reliable sources of drinking water in the area, we were reliant on buying plastic bottled water and transporting it to our remote worksites, at great expense to our business and the environment,” said Kori Chan, TWM Group’s Managing Director. “It’s a problem we worked on for years.”

The solution, Chan says, has come in the form of new, game-changing water harvesting technology.

Developed by SOURCE, Global, PBC, SOURCE® Hydropanels use only the power of the sun to produce premium drinking water on site and from the surrounding atmosphere.  

Powered by solar energy, the Hydropanel draws pure water vapor out of the sky and onto a patented hygroscopic material that’s incredibly efficient at attracting and absorbing H2O molecules. The system converts these molecules into liquid water, which is collected in a reservoir inside the panel and mineralized with magnesium & calcium, creating high-quality, great-tasting drinking water that’s delivered directly to homes, businesses, community distribution centers and bottling operations.

By tapping into the renewable water in the atmosphere, SOURCE creates fresh drinking water where it’s consumed, driving down the costs and carbon emissions that come with bottling and transportation. Over its lifetime, a single panel can offset up to 54,750 single-use plastic bottles, with water than rivals premium brands at a small fraction of the cost.

The technology works entirely off the grid, with no additional infrastructure needed, and can produce water even in the most remote locations and the driest places on earth.

TWM group has installed SOURCE® Hydropanels at its remote worksite in Roku, where conditions are arid and drinking water is scarce. The installation replaces the plastic bottled water the company relied on for years and is expected to cut drinking water costs by 25 percent.

The installation is the first phase of a larger TWM Group drinking water initiative. The company plans extend the project to the nearby Roku village, where more than 2,500 indigenous villagers live, and to roll out SOURCE® Hydropanels to its clients, many of whom also operate in remote, water-scarce locations and are looking for cost-effective, environmentally friendly solutions.

As part of its well-established community development program, TWM will also bring SOURCE technology to vulnerable, water-stressed areas across the country.

Papua New Guinea has made strides in safe water access, but is still one of 129 countries not on track to achieve the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 6: By 2030, Ensure Availability and Sustainable Management of Water and Sanitation for All. For Chan and TWM, that’s not acceptable.

“We believe businesses must lead the way to increasing our progress toward SDG 6, but with such widespread, complex water challenges, we need sustainable, distributed, and highly cost-effective technologies,” Chan said. “SOURCE fulfills those demands and helps us meet our sustainability goals and drivers. It is user friendly and easily deployed, provides healthy cost savings and can literally create drinking water where none exists.”

TWM Group’s purpose is to create a better reality for the people, environment, and culture of Papua New Guinea. The installation of SOURCE® Hydropanels is a representation of that purpose in action, and the two companies share a deep commitment to create a positive impact on the world.

SOURCE Global’s mission is to perfect drinking water for every person, every place and, by producing water locally and where it’s needed most, the company is creating resilience, well-being, economic security for the communities it serves.

“We applaud TWM Group for their innovative spirit and focus on using new and innovative technology to solve the challenges global businesses, at-risk communities, and the planet face,” said Rob Bartrop, chief revenue officer, SOURCE Global. “Their work is a clear and effective example of Thinking Globally, acting locally and we are proud to be one of their partners.”

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Photo Left to Right: Rob Batterham (TWM Group Special Projects & Environment Manager), Michael Chan (TWM Group CEO), Michael Wau (Director – CEPA Non-Renewable Resource Division, Environment Protection Wing); Fabian Taimbari (Acting Manager – CEPA Oil and Gas Branch) and Steve Nicholls (CEPA Technical Advisor). TWM Group, a local SME business in the waste and environmental services sector operating in PNG, was recently presented with a Level 3 Environment Permit (EPL-485) by the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA). This is the first of its kind to be issued to a Waste Management company in PNG and of this scale. L3 environment permits are applied where the greatest level of environment and social protection are necessary – generally granted to the large corporates within the Oil, Gas and Mining industries. TWM’s environment permit has more than 127 conditions, reflective of the highest levels of scrutiny to be applied by CEPA, as the Regulator on Environment Protection. Established in 2011, TWM Group has been operating under a Level 2 (L2) Environment Permit administered by CEPA. The company has grown its core business in Waste Management and is now delivering other integrated technical services including Industrial Services, Environmental Advisory Services, Renewables and Skilled manpower services (Training and placements) all of which have contributed toward the development of TWM’s Integrated Waste Management Facility (IWMF) in Central Province. With a greater range of services, TWM Group acknowledged the further responsibilities to both the environment and community, therefore a L3 Environment Permit was essential to meet these corporate obligations.  The L3 Environment Permit defines a suite of control measures intended to ensure potential for environment harm is avoided and/or minimized. It prescribes many commitments that TWM must meet for monitoring and measurement of environment aspects (i.e., air, water, noise, dust) and it stipulates a stringent record-keeping reporting requirement to CEPA. “The L3 Environment Permit recently granted to our business will allow us to construct and safely operate our Integrated Waste Management Facility (IWMF) to world-class standards. This is the first of its kind in PNG and for the Pacific island’s region”, said Kori Chan, Managing Director of the TWM Group. “This environment permit is reflective of the evolving legislation and increasing regulatory oversight and indicative of the increasing social expectation for companies to operate in a manner that is socially, environmentally and ethically responsible and aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).” The Permit issuance is the culmination of a year’s worth of environment and social studies to develop the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment; significant financial investments in understanding the existing conditions, establishing facilities and controls to safeguard the environment beyond the projected 25+ years of operation; TWM Group’s activities passing the highest level of scrutiny by eminent social and environmental specialists from industry, government and educations sectors; and extensive public, government and community stakeholder engagements and consultation. “I see the issuance of the Level 3 Environment Permit to TWM as an enabler to other development partners in PNG; they now have an in-country waste services facility that has the necessary statutory approvals for challenging waste streams”, said Michael Wau, Director of CEPA (Non-Renewable Resource Division - Environment Protection Wing). “TWM Group has raised the bar as the first in the growing waste industry in PNG, and CEPA is equally proud in partnering in the journey”, Wau said. The L3 Environmental Permit will allow TWM Group to undertake construction of the IWMF at Roku (a first and only such facility in PNG and the Pacific islands region) and conduct industrial wastewater treatment, quarrying and rock extraction; operate a full engineered landfill, design world-class standards capable of receiving municipal, construction and demolition and hazardous wastes; waste incineration including industrial and biomedical wastes; bulk waste storage, reprocessing, fixation and treatment including hazardous solids and liquids and material recovery and recycling (including glass, oil, organics, metals, paper and cardboard, putrescible materials and plastics). The grant of the L3 Environment Permit places TWM Group among the Mining and Oil and Gas majors that hold such permits in PNG.

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