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ReFood Sees Sales Quadrupling as It Mops Up Savoy Hotel’s Scraps

ReFood GmbH, a company that makes energy out of food scraps from London’s legendary Savoy Hotel Ltd., expects revenue to quadruple as it brings projects online.

ReFood may see revenue increase to about 50 million pounds ($81 million) in the next 18 months from 12 million pounds last year, said Philip Simpson, commercial director. The unit of Germany’s Saria Bio-Industries GmbH operates a 2.8-megawatt waste-to-power plant in Doncaster, northern England, and plans to bring two further plants online next year.

“There are a lot of hidden costs in waste disposal,” Simpson said by phone. “Food waste can be recycled cheaper than going to landfill, and I think once you show people that it’s safe and secure -- and the killer punch is it’s cheaper -- why wouldn’t someone do it?”

Supermarkets and businesses in the U.K. are being pushed to send food waste to anaerobic digestion facilities such as ReFood’s by a landfill tax that makes it increasingly expensive to bury waste. It was introduced in April 2012 at 64 pounds a metric ton and rose to 72 pounds this April.

“We’re encouraging the government to start looking at food waste as a resource and not something to stick in a hole in the ground,” Simpson said. England needs to consider banning food waste from landfill, he said. The devolved governments of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have introduced or are consulting on such measures, he said.

ReFood is building a waste-to-power plant in the country’s north and it won planning consent for a plant in London earlier this month. With the Doncaster plant, they represent an investment of about 60 million pounds, Simpson said. The company wants eventually to have a network of waste-to-energy facilities across the U.K.

The Savoy, where French chef Auguste Escoffier once ran the kitchens and Winston Churchill frequently lunched, is saving as much as 200 pounds a week by turning its food scraps into energy, according to ReFood.

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