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BioNova: The way to waste

15 April 2011

EXCLUSIVE Clive Tayton, MD of BioNova, tells FP the food sector is so important to BioNova they've introduced shredders to their machines so soft cardboard and light garden waste can be added to its process

Can you define what BioNova does in your own words?
It’s a very simple operation. Tip food waste into our Biodigester - and via a biomass boiler, create your own renewable energy. There’s lots of press about the BIG new Anaerobic Digestion (AD) plants, which have their place – but we win any environmental argument because we do everything on site, rather than send fleets of HGVs onto our already overcrowded roads to transport waste all over the place.

When, why and by whom was the company established in the UK?
We were established in September 2009. Tom Boughton and I saw a gap in the market for what we considered a proper, joined-up-thinking environmental solution for food waste.

How did the recession affect BioNova - if at all?
As a capital equipment purchase we saw some customers less willing to commit. The resistance was frustrating, especially when the will was very much there – but many did continue with their plans because the investment is not just paid back by generating renewable energy, there’s now the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) to capitalise on – not to mention factoring out costs from those you used to pay to take your so-called rubbish away!

Are you finding the recovery is having a positive effect on your business?
Yes. It’s still tough at times but everyone is excited about waste-to-energy, which is a true growth industry.

How much business does BioNova do with the food sector?
All of our business is in the food industry. In addition to food processors we work with any business that generates around 1,000 litres of food waste per week. Our customers include some of the UK’s leading independent schools, motorway services and hotels.

How important will the food sector be to you in 2011 and beyond?
It’s our everything. At some sites we have now introduced shredders to our machines so that soft cardboard and light garden waste can be added to our process.

Could you elaborate on the UK hierarchy of your company?
There’s no hierarchy at BioNova. We are a small but growing, privately-owned, limited company. As an independent we believe we have the advantage in being able to deal direct, so can offer very close customer service and back-up.

How important are sustainability and 'green' issues to the company?
Again, it’s in everything we do. As well as the addition of a shredder to some of our machines, we can for example, now offer a fuel pod for the recycling of cooking oil. We convert this to biodiesel and some of our customers use this for their vehicles, which is of course a great benefit.

What is it about your process that distinguishes you from your competitors?
The fact that ours is on-site – and also because it’s so quick. Most large AD plants take about 30 days to break down a tanker full of waste, whereas our Biodigester takes just 72 hours or less. Our process only requires a small footprint too. We aren’t just selling a product; we’re an engineering solutions oriented company.

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