June 25, 2014
A UK start-up is going up against the big waste companies with a low-cost technology developed in the “back of the garage”, claiming it will make it greener, cheaper and easier for businesses to deal with their waste. Quantum Waste has already trialled its small-scale waste composting technology in London with businesses including Crossrail and Imperial College and last month won a tranche of funding from leading infrastructure investment manager Foresight Group. The company is now planning to take its decentralised, “one-stop” solution to the wider market, claiming it can provide a more economically competitive and more sustainable solution for businesses than existing waste management systems. UK businesses are throwing away around 6.6 million tonnes a year of food, drink and packaging waste at a cost of £5 billion, according to the Waste and Resources Action Programme. Much of this waste is either going to landfill or ending up in large centralised anaerobic digesters (AD) or composting plants. *Low cost solution Using the minimal amount of energy, Quantum’s technology transforms food waste and wet waste – including garden waste – into organic fertiliser. Because it is small – each container measures only one square metre – it can be positioned close to the businesses it is servicing and upfront investment costs can be kept to a minimum. It is also mobile, making it suitable for projects, such as construction sites. “We have developed a technology that allows us to do what the big companies do, but locally,” director and founder Javier Rojo told GreenWise. Rojo, a former investment manager with Climate Change Capital, said Quantum’s decentralised, low cost solution gives it an advantage over big AD or composting plants that require large and complex financing. “The technology is cheap – £1000 a unit. The process is simple and is based on back of the garage technology,” he said. Quantum has its first pilot plant up and running in Deptford, which Rojo says is now “breaking even”. The plant, which has the potential to generate its own heat, has qualified for the Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive. *Franchise business Going forward, Rojo plans are to use the franchise model to grow the business. He aims to have two to three similar plants up and running in London by the beginning of 2015. “The business model enables people to be their own bosses, it creates local jobs and lowers the carbon footprint of the operation,” he explained. Rojo said the next year was about marketing the business to potential customers. Organisations that will be targeted include schools, hospitals, prisons, hotels, restaurants and office buildings.