VIBES Award: Waste & Resources


  • They recycle around 40,000 tonnes of organic waste per year.
  • Their high quality grade compost is highly effective and replaces chemical fertiliser. It is so popular with farmers that demand is outstripping supply.
  • Food waste collection service has enabled customers to increase their recycling rates by up to 30%, saving an estimated £168,000 per year.
  • With over £2 million of the £5 million invested in the business spent within a two-mile radius of the site, it is a key contributor to the local economy.
  • Overcame 85 objections to the initial planning application to change the perception of the site.
  • Collect food waste free-of-charge from six schools and gives them free compost back.
  • In 2009 and 2010 they won the Scottish Waste and Resources Award for demonstrating Best Practice and Innovation.

Keenan Recycling, based in New Deer, Turriff, is one of Scotland’s leading organic recycling companies. It has grown from a bark-shredding business to operating the joint largest in-vessel compost unit in the world (the other is in Canada). Annually, they process about 40,000 tonnes of organic waste generated by three local authorities and the commercial sector. This is transformed into compost which is sold to the agricultural sector, back to the local authorities and for garden use by the public.

The business offers a number of services, including:

  • green and food waste composting (including fish processing waste from the fish processors in the area);
  • shredding and screening services, including mobile plant hire throughout the UK;
  • ‘Equishred’, which is a patented, fine-shredded wood made from shredded scaffolding and pallets for use in equestrian facilities;
  • a premium grade compost.

Their food waste collection service has been very successful (with 150–200 customers signed up in the first year) and has enabled customers to increase their recycling rates by up to 30% in some cases, saving them an estimated £168,000 per year. Keenan have formed partnerships with the large waste management companies in Aberdeen, giving them access to contracts with the majority of large businesses in the area, including those in the oil and gas sector, such as BP and Shell, shopping centres, universities and hotels. The mobile business processes a further 100,000 tonnes of organic waste throughout Scotland and England.

A hugely successful product, Keenan Recycling’s innovative, PAS100-accredited premium grade compost is now widely used in agriculture. It is a highly effective, slow-release fertiliser that helps improve soil quality. Before developing this product, the organic waste used in its creation was going to landfill and creating methane. By developing the compost, Keenan estimate that over 300,000 tonnes of carbon emissions are saved each year and that a farmer, buying 20,000 tonnes of the compost will, on average, save £20,000 a year compared with chemical fertiliser costs.

It was clear to the VIBES judges that their products are of a high quality as evidenced through their growing trials conducted with the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC).The trials demonstrated the effectiveness of the compost—the crops were very successful and proved that the product can be used in place of chemical fertilisers imported from Brazil and China. The product is so successful with farmers that demand continually outstrips supply and they have a waiting list in operation!

It wasn’t all plain sailing, though. Initially, Keenan Recycling had to overcome 85 objections to the planning application at the New Deer site. However, the business successfully changed the perceptions of the site through positive news articles in local press and by inviting objectors to visit and see the process in action. There have been no complaints about the site since it started operations and is now widely accepted as an agricultural business with significant benefits to the local community and economy.

It was obvious to the judges that there is clear commitment from Keenan Recycling. Their innovative partnership approaches, coupled with their input to the local community through job creation and support of local initiatives, made them stand out as a clear winner in the Waste and Resources category. As the new Zero Waste Regulations come into force, this business will go from strength to strength.