Keenan Recycling Ltd has fundamentally changed the way Scotland deals with its food and garden waste. Since it was founded in 2001, the innovative business has significantly increased its size and scale to become the largest recycler of such waste in the country. Furthermore, it has extended its reach into northern England and its ambitions could potentially see it deliver UK-wide operations in future.
Winning the Growth Management Team of the Year award at the British Private Equity & Venture Capital Association Awards in 2017, as well as Business of the Year at the inaugural SME Business Awards, Keenan has gone from strength to strength. Fuelled by a £2.2m investment from the Business Growth Fund in 2015, the business has broadened its solutions to increase food waste collection and underline its dramatic growth from pioneering start-up to market leader.
The company, which is headquartered in New Deer, transforms waste into British Standards Institute accredited compost. Utilising its fleet of specialised vehicles designed to access cities, suburbs and rural areas, Keenan is able to extract further economic and environmental value from food and garden waste rather than it being sent to landfill.
“The goal is to replace the current largely linear economy of ‘take, make and dispose’ with one in which resources circulate at high value, avoiding or reducing the need for virgin resources. This ‘circular economy’ approach helps drive greater resource productivity and positions the UK to better address emerging resource scarcity issues in the future,” explains Managing Director, Grant Keenan.
Aided by legal requirements in Scotland surrounding food waste, the company is not prepared to be held back by legislation in England that still needs to catch up. While further measures to encourage food waste recycling south of the Scottish border would obviously be welcome, the business has begun forging links in the north-east, working with local businesses and other waste management firms to move towards more sustainable practices.
In doing so, Keenan Recycling will add to the 150,000 tonnes of organic waste it turns into compost and electricity every year, as well as create a number of new jobs in the region. With the use of Food Banks on the rise, there has never been a better time to draw attention to food waste and how it can be used towards developing a greener, more sustainable future for all.
Bringing this together is its fleet of around 35 trucks. A mixed bunch of predominantly Mercedes vehicles ranging from 7.5 tonne to 26 tonne, Keenan Recycling’s most recent purchases have, however, involved other manufacturers including a Volvo tanker unit, Terberg BioWaste Toploaders, four Macpac trucks on a DAF chassis with another two on order, and two Farid rear-loaders.
Fuel efficiency and reliability understandably dominate the company’s capital investment programme while driver performance, including safety and fuel economy, are monitored. But what Grant really hopes to move to in the next few years is an all-electric fleet.
“That might only be five years away,” he says. “The technology exists but currently it’s cost-prohibitive, and there are limitations to the distance you can travel. But we’re moving that way, and technology is advancing all the time. The Holy Grail for us is to power our fleet entirely on the food waste we collect.”
As the company looks to 2019, much of its attention will be on developing its position in England and realising the potential of an untapped market. This will coincide with further acquisition that will leverage the skill the company possesses to take Keenan Recycling to a £40m to £50m turnover business within the next four years.