Start-up Secrets: How to make money from waste

Farming is one sector leading the field in turning business scraps into profitable ventures.

William Chase, the founder of Tyrrells Crisps is one of those. Originally a potato farmer, he used to sell whatever stock the supermarkets rejected to crisp factories. However, in 2002 he decided he could do a better job and started his own crisp-making venture.

In that first year, he set aside 5% of his crop for crisps, using the rest of his stock to carry on his potato business. But the demand for his crisps became so great, that in 2009 he stopped supplying supermarkets with potatoes and focused the whole of his 1,000 acre farm on Tyrrells Crisps.

In 2010 growth had levelled at 58% per year and Chase sold the company for a cool £40m.

Chase didn't exit to retire, however he decided to focus on another business that initially began as a project for disposing the waste from his potato crisps. Potato Vodka.

Taking the potatoes that didn't get used for the crisps, Chase decided to create a vodka that tastes of buttery mashed potatoes.

Launched in 2008 and imaginatively called Chase, the spirit sells at a rate of 2,000-3,000 bottles a week. It was also voted the world's best vodka in the 2010 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

Founder Chase, says, "turnover in 2011 should be around £3-4m and then £10m the year after".

The crisp-cum-vodka mogul isn't the only person turning their business scraps into profit. Another is Lochy Porter, founder of Angus Soft Fruits. His business provides strawberries, raspberries and blueberries to British supermarkets. The berry business has strict rules on what fruit gets sold and although 90% of his produce makes the grade, 10% is rejected. Rather than see these leftovers go to waste, he sells them on to jam makers and wholesalers. This means no fruit is wasted and helps contribute to the company's turnover of £25m.

Not bad for waste disposal, eh?

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