ACE social enterprise revolutionising food waste with pioneering initiative
ACE Recycling, one of Scotland’s leading social enterprise organisations, is ready to revolutionise the waste industry throughout Europe as part of a multi-million pound international pioneering partnership.
The Clackmannanshire-based charity, which has a workforce made up of more than 60 per cent of staff from disabled or disadvantaged backgrounds, is on the verge of launching an innovative trial which will divert a minimum of 60,000 tonnes of food waste from landfill, develop a cost-effective recycling programme for rural economies and benefit the country’s farming and other industries.
Three pilot projects, involving a major bakery, an island community and a prison, are due to start within the next few months to test a novel method of food waste recycling called BioRegen.
Using pioneering technology, involving specially cultivated naturally-occurring microbes, ACE aims to demonstrate how their new ‘on-site-solution” can significantly reduce the carbon and operational cost of food waste recycling while, at the same time, creating commercially valuable bio-refined products. These commodities can be used in topsoil production, as fertiliser in agriculture and horticulture and in the industrial and domestic cleaning markets in place of fossil fuels and other mineral based materials.
“Scotland is driving decarbonisation of our economy more quickly than most developing nations,” said Malcolm McArdle, Managing Director of Alloa Community Enterprises (ACE) Limited.
“Previous trials, to test the process and establish the market potential, clearly demonstrated there is a viable circular economy alternative for food recycling. The Phase 2 trials will clear the way to enable the creation of a world beating bio-refining enterprise that will significantly change how we manage organic waste and our land.”
In return for an investment of £2million ACE has secured a 10 year deal, worth a minimum of £1million per annum in revenues for the first three years and up to £10million a year after that, with VRM Global Holdings Pty Ltd (VRM) the Australian company behind the BioRegen technology.
The partnership with VRM will give ACE the right to roll out the BioRegen technology, which has been used successfully in Australia and Asia and where it is already having a major positive impact on global food security, across the UK and Europe.
It is anticipated the project will create around 24 new jobs in Clackmannanshire in the first three years and up to 140 across the country within the period of the agreement.
Details of the international partnership and the setting up of the trial projects were recently outlined to Keith Brown, MSP for Clackmannanshire and Dunblane, during a visit to the Alloa headquarters of ACE.
“ACE has had a strong presence in Clackmannanshire for over 30 years and has pioneered many forms of recycling during that time,” said Mr Brown.
“Their latest innovative project has the potential to have a very positive impact on the food waste industry as well as create local employment opportunities.
“I wish them every success with the pilot projects and look forward to hearing about the outcomes in due course.”
ACE, which has been operating for 32 years, is a member of Social Enterprise Scotland, the British Association of Supported Employers, Social Firms Scotland and the Community Resource Network Scotland.
The company, which is limited by guarantee and has charitable status, works with people with disabilities or from disadvantaged groups, including youngsters leaving care, ex-offenders, people recovering from addictions and the long-term young unemployed.
“We are not employability contractors which is what makes us different from many other Supported Employers,” said Malcolm McArdle.
“Our objective is to improve the employability of the people we work with and create full-time jobs for them within the organisation where possible. In the last four years alone we have increased our full-time workforce from 28 to 64, of which 61 per cent are beneficiaries of supported employment initiatives or from disadvantaged circumstances.
“We are very proud of the people who work for ACE. The value of on-going employment, training, social interaction and mentoring of our workforce is central to enabling them to become more independent and active in the workplace and their communities.
“Scotland has a well established history of creating and nurturing social enterprises and supported businesses, some of which have been in existence for over 150 years.
“There are currently over 5,100 social enterprises in operation providing sustainable employment for around 112,000 people, of which about 52 per cent have been given opportunities to re-enter the employment market and begin building meaningful skills and improve their long term career choices. The skills and expertise of this workforce is exceptional – providing high quality, competitive goods and services – and it deserves to be recognised as such.”