A FORMER Sage executive has signed up the software giant as the first commercial contract for his groundbreaking composting invention.
Tony Callaghan had started developing the idea for what was to become HotBin, which speeds up composting and deals effectively with food and garden waste, while he was still working as a commercial product manager at the Newcastle-based company.
He said: “It started as a hobby project; my compost bin was overflowing with waste.
“The more I researched composting, I thought I’d make one myself. It happened to be that a few months after that, I was offered voluntary redundancy. I took voluntary redundancy and went full tilt at it.”
Initially building a prototype from an old wheelie bin in the garden, he eventually created an aerobic composting bin which keeps its temperature at a constant 60C. The heat makes the HotBin 34 times faster than traditional composting bins and ensures that food waste can be recycled more easily.
Callaghan said: “Home composting has historically been restricted by the limitation on the types of food you can actually compost, the time it takes to get results and the effects of odour that attracts unwanted visitors.
“The controlled, constant temperature, along with the effective aeration, allows the HotBin to effortlessly reduce and recycle food and garden waste into great compost all year round.”
He quickly realised there was a commercial opportunity and received £170,000 from the Proof of Concept (POC) Fund at Northstar Ventures to test the invention.
“I’d heard a lot of rumours about how difficult it is (to raise finance) but I take my hat off to North Star – I had my answer and money in four weeks,” said Callaghan.
His first commercial contract is with Sage, which has large gardens managed by Lease-a-Leaf.
Callaghan is also talking to other companies about his invention and is particularly targeting smaller catering businesses.
The actual HotBin shell is made by SCA Foam Products at its Northampton plant. The company also produces Nissan car bumpers at its Spennymoor site and the composters are made from the same material.