VCU Composting

VCU In Vessel Composting systems a great success

The manufacturer of vegetable handling machinery is working with the New Zealand company VCU in vessel composting, in supplying composting plants for waste organisations and municipal authorities across the UK and Europe – most recently delivering specially designed composting vessels for processing fish waste in the north of Scotland.

The vessels were provided for Grays Composting expansion of their VCU in vessel composting plant at Portsoy in Aberdeenshire.  As well as processing shellfish waste, the company is now taking material collected as part of a local trial to divert kitchen organics from landfill.

The link began when the New Zealand company VCU was developing one of its first UK installations at Cranberry Composting at Eastville, near Boston.

“One of their engineers was based at Spilsby at the time and he was frequently calling into our spares department for components he needed,” recalls Charles Tong, managing director of Tong Engineering.

“He got to know our storeman Ian Evison quite well, and out of this came further contact from the firm to see whether we could help them by building VCU composting vessels in this country.  They had been shipping them from New Zealand and as their business grew, it made sense for them to look at manufacturing in the UK.”

Although the main business of Tong Engineering is supplying the potato and vegetable processing industry, the company began several years ago diversifying into the waste recycling sector with lines for handling and sorting municipal green waste.

Through its link with VCU Tong Engineering has so far manufactured 23 VCU composting vessels and its experience in engineering has helped in improving the design.  Larger capacity vessels have been developed, modified designs have reduced installation time by 50 per cent, electronics have largely replaced hydraulic systems, and safety standards raised to comply with latest EU regulations.

“It’s a relationship that works well with us having the engineering expertise and VCU the biological know-how,” says Mr Tong.

“UK manufacture allows greater fabrication in the factory, reducing installation time on site,” says VCU Europa general manager Steve Morris.  “It is very much a partnership, with both parties committed to continuing to value-engineer and refine the product.  The success of recent projects has meant that the manufacture of all the major items associated with the in-vessel composting system is now carried out by Tong Engineering.

We benefit from bringing different skills to the table — Tong Engineering’s expertise in materials handling and ours with the process knowledge.”

Other joint VCU in vessel composting projects include Keenan Recycling which is investing more than £3 million in expanding its facilities at New Deer, in Aberdeenshire, to handle food waste alongside green waste.

Last year three further VCU chambers were provided for Compost Recyclables at Murcia in Spain, quadrupling the amount of organic waste including squid by-products which they treat from the region and allowing further diversion of waste from landfill.