Kenny Waste Management, which employs more than 100 people at its depot in Salford, had an idea for revolutionising the waste and recycling industry but lacked the specialist scientific knowledge to move the concept to the next stage.
Now, since receiving support from the Business Growth Hub, it is several steps closer to creating a new product that has the potential to transform recycling around the world, and has created three new positions within its sales team.
Kenny Waste Management is committed to meeting the ever changing demands of its customers and environmental agencies, and is constantly working to ensure it aligns itself with the latest advances in technology within the industry and the ever-changing legislative landscape.
It’s this way of thinking which is also behind the move to develop ground-breaking technologies that improve the quality and auditability of their service.
Technical Director Paul Eagleton wanted to explore the possibility of creating an industry-changing technology that uses visualisation and image recognition to automate a highly labour intensive activity within the recycling process.
“If our idea works,” he explains, “it would provide industry-leading reporting information that could revolutionise the waste and recycling industry across the whole of the UK and, perhaps, globally through increased accuracy, reliability and traceability.”
It would also leave the company in a position to license the idea commercially to other waste businesses, leading to potentially significant growth and a major competitive edge in the marketplace.
The concept involves an innovative, more precise way of estimating the specific contents of mixed waste skips, something which is currently done manually.
Following an initial diagnostic, one of the Hub’s innovation advisors, Paul Halliday, suggested the company explore the potential of the idea with a local university. An outline project specification was circulated to all four of Greater Manchester’s universities, with the University of Manchester expressing an interest in working with Kenny Waste Management in order to turn the idea into reality.
An initial proof of concept was conducted which showed that, with further research, the idea could be turned into a workable, practical solution. The Hub and the Knowledge Exchange team at the University are now supporting the business in its application for a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) which will move the project to the next stage.
“We understand waste and fully appreciate the problems associated with sorting and recycling it − accurately reporting to customers that the waste they produce has its own set of unique issues,” explains Paul Eagleton. “Using technology to solve these problems seemed like a great idea but we didn’t have anything solid and scientific to back this up.
“The Business Growth Hub, and their contacts within the academic world, has helped us to do this, and hopefully we’ll soon see a new and innovative product, born and bred in Greater Manchester that has the potential to transform recycling around the world.”
And Paul Halliday adds: “It’s fantastic to work with a business that is constantly striving to come up with new ideas and services. It’s long been said that Greater Manchester is a hot bed of innovation, and ideas like this just go to prove it.”
Additional support from low carbon sector advisors helped Kenny Waste Management to better assess the viability of new waste markets and streams through market research, while plans are also in place to undertake a carbon foot printing exercise to improve environmental performance.
Vicky Wilding, one of the Hub’s low carbon sector specialists, adds: “Kenny Waste Management is an exciting company to be supporting – not only because of their size but also because they have created a culture which encourages and supports innovation.”