It all began back in 2014 when Malcolm Wood, Company Director of Ivan Wood & Sons, Fruit Merchant which was proud to be Scotland’s greenest fresh produce catering trade supplier, had to make the family tea. Malcolm chose a quick and easy solution – Chips and Salad! After all he could just grab some pre-prepared supplies from his warehouse in West Fife.
Tea duly made, like many Dads’ he asked “How was that? Were the Chips tasty?” The family assured him it was “…..alright Dad but the chips aren’t like those from the chippy, they’re a bit like cardboard” and Malcolm had to agree. At that time all the pre-prepared chips in the UK were imported from Holland and Denmark. Indeed on further investigation it turned out that there just wasn’t a decent UK based alternative.
Malcolm has always been a resourceful business owner and has never taken no for an answer. Constant improvement was what has made Ivan Wood & Sons the most innovative and greenest fruit merchant in Scotland. So in true entrepreneurial fashion he purchased a potato peeler and set about developing a tasty chip made with UK grown potatoes. And he succeeded and these chips are now available under the Woody’s Chips brand. Caterers love them and their customers are continually praising the quality and taste of the hand made chips. Just like the best Chippy!
But therein lay the problem. The drains at the processing unit near Ballingry in Fife were continuously getting blocked with potato peelings and starch. Smelly, messy and a continual expense to get cleared and, of course, about to become illegal with the Waste (Scotland) Regulations implementation in 2016. Not the sort of image Scotland’s greenest Fruit Merchant wished to risk.
Malcolm couldn’t believe it when he tried to purchase some sort of disposal system for the potato waste. There was nothing on the market apart from a metal sieve which did not suit his needs. So started 8 months of trial and error with hoses, boxes, pipes and jet washing. Malcolm thought he was getting somewhere but the waste was still smelly, messy and blocking up drains. Then came Malcolm’s Eureka moment at 2am in the morning much to the consternation of his wife Arlene as he jumped up shouting “I’ve got it, I’ve got it” throwing on some clothes and driving through the night to the unit and firing up the potato peeler. Two weeks later the first unit was built and working. No more smells, mess and blocked drains and still able to say Scotland’s Greenest and Waste Regs compliant Fruit Merchant.
Malcolm and his team developed the prototype further and through collaboration with Abertay University, patented his design and started to look for markets to sell to. The obvious one was Fish and Chip shops who peel their own potatoes. Market research showed that the average Chip Shop peeled around 10 bags of main crop potatoes a week producing approximately 420kg of waste, mostly going down the drains. They also suffered from smelly, messy and blocked drains needing expensive jet clearing every few weeks.
Peel Tech have now supplied units to a range of outlets across the country, all to outstanding acclaim and are ready to go national now. The implementation of the Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012 and Section 111 of the Water Industry Act 1991 in England Wales now makes it an offence liable to a fine of up to £10K for anyone found discharging commercial food waste into the mains sewers. It’s only a matter of time before the Fish and Chip Shop industry is targeted and as Malcolm says “Why wait till you get caught, fined and splashed all over the local press for all the wrong reasons. Get a Peel Tech installed and by the time the water authorities start their clamp down, your unit will have paid for itself in saved drainage clearance costs and make you proud you are keeping the local drains clean and waste free”
Malcom and his team were delighted to win two awards at the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards held in February 2017 with the Innovation of the Year prize for the Peel Tech system. But this was just the latest in a host of awards including Fife Business Awards and VIBES Awards. Judges are always impressed with the simplicity and affordability of the solution and the significant contribution to the environment it will make.