18th Oct, 2019

New machine which converts household waste into fuel could help fight against climate crisis

AN ECO-MINDED inventor has created a machine which converts waste into energy – and hopes it will soon become as common as a fridge or cooker in people’s homes.

Stratford-based company Heru, founded by Nik Spencer, has come up with the potential new kitchen appliance the Home Energy Resource Unit (Heru).

The machine – which works like regular white goods – breaks down household waste from coffee cups and plastic bottles, to nappies and food, and converts it into energy to heat water, by boiling it and starving it of oxygen, over eight hours.

It can take up to 7kg of waste – two-and-a-half times more than the daily amount produced by an average household – and outputs twice as much energy as it consumes.

As well as diverting waste from landfill and cutting energy bills, the Heru could also be a solution to unrecyclable waste like Pringles tubes which cannot be recycled because of their mix of materials and other unrecylable plastics. Materials which cannot be processed include metal and glass.

Nik, who previously ran a recycling firm, said it struck him there should be a more efficient way to dispose of waste without the need for pollution-driving vehicle collections.

He told the Observer: “Our recycling system is crazy. We are running around in vehicles six miles to the gallon picking up recycling and making it into energy from waste plants.

“The meaning of waste is if you discard something that has no further purpose so the Heru means waste never arises because it never actually becomes waste. Our vision is waste doesn’t exist and there’s no need for it. Everything has value.”

He also believes the machine could provide a crucial aid to tackling the climate crises.

A recent report estimated the Heru would save each home 72kg of CO2 annually, and if every UK household had one, carbon emissions would be cut by some 1,944,000 tonnes.

And gritty fats from the small amount of ash left in the Heru can also help break down fat bergs – masses of congealed fat which clog up the sewerage system.

The machine – which is currently costed at around £19,000 – is being trialled commercially around the Midlands.

One of those venues includes the cafe at Hillers Farm Shop in Alcester.

Owner Emma Taylor said: “We are filling the Heru daily with food offcuts and packaging, thus greatly reducing the waste that has to be collected.

“The knock-on effects of this trial are astronomical and while we are extremely pleased with the Heru’s performance for our own use, we are so excited with how our involvement in this initiative will not only dramatically decrease our rubbish and recycling, but the growth of the concept could change the way we all manage the resources around us.”

The first domestic use of the Heru set to take place in a new housing development near Evesham.

Nik added the potential reduction in waste collection tax meant it could be possible a Heru – whose price is predicted to come down to less than £5,000 – could become standard in new homes.

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