Keenan Recycling invests in first of its kind waste facility

Gregor Keenan of Keenan Recycling and Sophie Thirkell of Zero Waste Scotland

KEENAN Recycling has secured £540,000 from the Zero Waste Scotland’s Circular Economy Investment Fund. The £18 million fund provides investment for SMEs based in Scotland in support of projects that will deliver growth in the circular economy, thanks to the European Regional Development Fund.

Scotland’s largest organic waste recycling company will use the funding to expand and improve its integrated approach to collecting and turning organic waste into green energy from its new site in Linwood.

The waste plant near Glasgow will unpack and process the food waste, collected and delivered by Keenan Recycling’s fleet of disposal trucks. The waste will be turned into liquidised fuel that will be shared with local anaerobic digester (AD) plants for conversion into green energy.

The Linwood plant and integrated service represent a £1.7million investment overall and follows the successful trial of a biofuel plant at Keenan’s premises in New Deer, Aberdeenshire.

This pilot plant demonstrated the huge demand for biofuel which can be readily produced. With contamination reduced at the collection point, the fuel is prepared in a form that is easily transportable, user-friendly and high in dry matter content.

Processing more than 100,000 tonnes of organic waste a year, Keenan is already supplying AD plants throughout Scotland.

The new centre in Linwood is due to open in March 2020.

Operations director, Gregor Keenan, explained: “We have always been passionate about having complete control of the waste material we are handling: from the moment it’s collected, through to processing. When we collect the waste, we have a chance to look in the bin and check its quality before passing it to our sites in New Deer and now Linwood. This ensures that there’s no contamination, which is a huge issue for AD plants. Any contamination results in a thick layer of non-organic material which has no gas-making potential and therefore reduces the profit of the operation to convert it into green energy.”

He added: “Gas derived from our biofuel is used to create electricity, gas to grid and heat.  After this stage a clean material called digestate is produced which can then be used as a biofertilizer; free of contamination, ensuring a quality product for the end-user.”

This streamlined approach aims to connect and integrate waste producers, collectors, AD plants and end-users of digestate.

By adding value and incentivising at each step of the process to produce a high-value energy fuel, Keenan hopes to change the market drivers in food waste recycling – and boost the circular economy of Scotland.

Louise McGregor, Head of Circular Economy, Zero Waste Scotland said: “The circular economy seeks to eliminate all waste by keeping materials in circulation for as long as possible. By increasing efforts to salvage more organic waste, Keenan Recycling is making best use of resources that could have otherwise ended up in landfill. This is made even more important by the fact that food waste harms the environment as it gives off methane, a potent greenhouse gas, when left to rot.

“We’d encourage more businesses to get in touch with Zero Waste Scotland for support with innovative projects that reduce waste. Taking a sustainable approach will be beneficial for the planet and your business.”

Mr Keenan added: “With support from Zero Waste Scotland, BGF and Clydesdale Bank we have invested considerable time and money into the research and development of our integrated service. This has included the introduction of handheld devices to report real-time collection results and new de-packaging technologies which have produced higher volumes of organics for recycling.

“Our food waste is now being converted to green energy and we are passionate about our role in the circular economy to deliver a cleaner future for Scotland.

“As our business continues to expand south of the border, and more English companies move to a greener method of dealing with their food, we may have the opportunity to roll out a similar model across the whole of the UK.”

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