These have been testing times for small- and medium-sized businesses in the past couple of years. But those who have seen it through have often come out stronger and ready to finally put their pre-recession business plans to use.
TEG Group commercial director Jayne Pierre comments: “As for the recession, who knows how quickly we would have grown during that period. But we just know that, in the past few years, we have grown considerably.”
Scotland, Wales and England are all looking to ban food waste from landfill, which would mean a huge uptake of composting facilities across the UK. And with the coalition Government’s commitment to a “significant” increase in AD as well, the sector offers scope for significant growth.
Operating for a decade, TEG Group has gone from strength to strength. In the past few years, the company has announced a stream of new contracts, partnerships and plants. It owns sites at Todmorden in Perth, Carleton Rode in Norwich and Sherdley Farm in Lancashire, as well as a further six operational composting sites from the recent Simpro acquisition at Stoke, Nottingham, Telford, Gaydon, Wolverhampton and Coventry. It has also provided the equipment for many other projects.
Recently, the in-vessel composting (IVC) specialist announced its move into anaerobic digestion (AD) with its first plant to be built in Perth alongside its already established IVC facility.
Pierre explains: “We’ve entered into a collaboration with Alkane Energy to enter the AD sector quickly. We recognised that we needed expertise in this field that matched our expertise in IVC, so we wanted to find ourselves a partner that was already running fast down that route. So we found Alkane Energy, which converts methane into energy. It knows all about how energy is contracted, how combined heat and power is handled and connecting to the grid. Stuff we don’t know.”
TEG has also entered into a licence agreement with UTS, which provides the components for AD plants. Collaboration is key to both these deals, says Pierre.She believes the company has achieved so much by putting the right partnerships and the right people in place: “We’ve got a hell of a team of people. They have a lot of engineering experience in the wider waste management sector.
“A lot of people have got a passion for composting and recycling organic waste. Some people find it revolting and a horrible idea, but others are inspired. It is a pretty amazing process. You’re harnessing nature, capturing it through engineering, and turning some goopy, horrible food into rich brown fertiliser that farmers can use instead of chemicals.”
Pierre’s pride and sincerity talking about TEG is obvious. And it might be TEG’s determination that led to it being chosen by Viridor to provide four IVC facilities for the Greater Manchester Waste PFI project. It has also been able to secure grant funding from Zero Waste Scotland for its Perth AD facility and investment from Albion Ventures.
“We have been very successful in being able to raise money at a time when lots of companies haven’t,” says Pierre. “It is more challenging than before the crunch for everybody, but if an investor can see it’s a good sound project with a good sound team, and they can see where the revenue is coming from, then it is possible. We’re proof of it because we have so many projects going ahead.”
TEG has recently received planning permission to build its second AD plant in Wales, in collaboration with Anagest. It will also be co-located with an IVC facility and the company plans to use this co-location model more in future. More activity is also expected to take place in Wales - a country which has little infrastructure to treat its organic waste.
“My God we have worked hard,” says Pierre, and I would certainly agree with that.