Foresight invests £5 million in food waste processing company

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5 March 2009 - Foresight Group (“Foresight”), a leading alternative asset manager, announced today that it has completed an investment of £5 million in Vertal Limited (“Vertal”), a food waste recycling company.  Vertal specialises in the construction and operation of advanced in-vessel accelerated composting plants which convert food waste into a nutrient rich fertiliser product that can replace petrochemical fertilisers currently used by farmers.

Vertal has secured planning permission to build its first facility in Mitcham, South East London which will be capable of processing over 70,000 tonnes of food waste a year.  This site is due to be fully operational within twelve months and the company is planning to build a further nine plants throughout the UK, with the capacity to handle an estimated five per cent of current food waste volumes. Vertal’s processes are based on a proven technology which the management team has operated successfully through full scale trials. Foresight has invested an initial £5 million in Vertal to support the construction of the facility at Mitcham and to help accelerate Vertal’s plans for further sites as part of its rollout strategy. 

Vertal addresses a significant gap in the UK market for food waste processing.  Currently 15 million tonnes of food waste are sent to landfill every year, and with escalating Landfill Tax and rising recycling and diversion targets relating to local authority waste, there is a clear demand for alternative processing methods. 

Vertal’s management team has extensive experience in the waste industry and in processing technology, including a dedicated in-house expertise in the aerobic digestion of food waste. The team is led by Managing Director and founder of Vertal, Leon Mekitarian, who has nearly 17 years experience in the waste management industry.

Giles Whitman, who led the transaction for Foresight, comments:
“This deal is further evidence of the key role Foresight is playing in helping the UK to meet its landfill diversion and recycling targets. Vertal is typical of many other deals we’re working on, backing experienced management teams to build and operate networks of local recycling and power generation facilities, which we believe are more environmentally sustainable than larger centralised facilities.”

Nigel Aitchison will join the Vertal Board as Foresight’s Investor Director, bringing a further 18 years of waste management experience to the Company. Nigel comments:  
“We believe that demand for this technology will increase in the future and that Vertal is ideally positioned to provide an economically competitive, but more sustainable alternative to landfill for UK food waste.”

Leon Mekitarian, Managing Director of Vertal, added, “This investment gives us the necessary financial firepower to put our first plant into operation and will enable us to fulfil our ambitious future expansion plans. Foresight has a great deal of experience in building infrastructure around environmental processes and this will be invaluable as we look to rapidly grow the business over the next few years.”