By Noel Dundon
Tipperary company Acorn Recycling, located at Littleton, Thurles has this week received a much coveted license from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to sell very affordable high-end organic compost, suitable for use in horticulture, agriculture, domestic gardens and sports fields.
The 7 million Euro futuristic plant at Littleton commenced production in June 2010 and has now received the blessing of the Department and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) having adhered to extremely stringent rules and regulations governing their business.
The compost is derived from domestic brown bin collections and food waste residue and is taken into a one-flow system which prevents cross contamination of waste with the final product. The waste matter is treated at 70 degrees celcius prior to curing and the final product is a rich, dark, totally organic compost which helps improve soil structure, increases microbial activity and essentially helps give life back to the soil. The process essentially replaces landfill as a means of managing organic material, but with a twist - the twist being that the rawmaterial is returned to the land as a nutrient rich, soil enhancing product.
Mr Ronan Beasley, Managing Director of Acorn Reycling, told The Tipperary Star this week, “ This is the news we have been waiting for. We are now in a position to go to the market with our compost and this is exciting for us in that it is a local solution to a local problem. We will be providing this organic compost to farmers for top dressing on grassland, or in advance of ploughing; to domestic users for lawns, vegetable gardens, flower beds; to horticulturalists, nurseries, for tillage and much more. It is a very balanced fertiliser and it is totally organic,” Ronan said.
With a staff of eight currently working out of Littleton, Acorn Recycling - part of the Arlo Group which is headquartered in Archerstown, Thurles - is hoping to expand in the future and is already engaged in research and development with the view to diversifying, modifying their product and seeking out further markets.
Producing 13,000 tonnes per year, the company will be selling their odorless compost in bulk to customers who can collect at the plant, or take delivery. But, due to transport considerations, the compost is most effective within a 30 mile radius of the state-of-the-art facility in Littleton which contains the largest biofiltration system in Ireland as part of it’s 89 acre site , purchased in 2005.
The site is located just 3km from the M8 motorway on the Ballynonty road providing easy access for logistics purposes. The project plays an important role in assisting the Government in meeting its obligation to divert biodegradable waste away from landfill.
The Littleton Composting Plant is a fully enclosed indoor composting facility with forced aeration, air extraction, and a bio-filtration system. It is one of the most advanced composting facility of its kind in Ireland or the UK for the treatment of biological waste. The use of this product in agriculture reduces the need to import chemical fertilizers which has economic and environmental benefits. In horticultural use it can also displace the use of peat from the native bogs.
AQS Environmental Solutions is a sister company of Acorn and was developed by the Arlo Group to act as a background and supply business for Acorn Recycling. Liam and Donal Kearney’s vision was that AQS and Acorn would compliment each other and that is exactly how it has worked out. They have worked, entirely grant free, with great innovation and diligence to bring Acorn Recycling’s finished product to market at a fraction of the cost of other composts.
See advert on page 7, section 2 and photo on page 6 of this section.