A Shropshire firm which makes technology that converts waste food to renewable energy and fertiliser has merged with another leading pioneer in the sector.

Bedfordshire-based Biogen has acquired Greenfinch, based in Ludlow, to create BiogenGreenfinch.

The new company will provide anaerobic digestion (AD) services to the agricultural, food, waste and water industries as well as to local authorities.

Anaerobic digestion is a process where micro-organisms break down biodegradable material and is used to treat wastewater sludges and organic wastes that would otherwise go to landfill. It also provides a source of renewable energy as well as a valuable bio-fertiliser.

Michael Chesshire, founder of Greenfinch and technology director of BiogenGreenfinch, said: “Interest in AD has increased enormously over the past two years because of its strong credentials as a low carbon technology, addressing the challenges of landfill diversion, energy costs, fertiliser costs and resource management. Britain needs a strong home-grown AD industry and BiogenGreenfinch brings together the expertise and resources of two pioneering companies which have invested heavily in the development of the technology for food waste, for agriculture and for the water industry.”

Greenfinch, which employs 25 people, is a process engineering company focusing on anaerobic digestion technology and works across three main sectors - sewage sludge digesters, farm digesters and food waste digesters.

The firm designed, built and is now operating the South Shropshire Biodigester. The plant is the first of its kind in the UK to process source-seperated municipal kitchen waste into biogas and a biofertiliser.

Greenfinch was founded in 1993 by Michael Chesshire who has spent most of his professional career since 1975 working in the field of anaerobic digestion and biogas.

Mr Chesshire is chairman of the Renewable Energy Association Biogas Group and a well-known, respected figure in the anaerobic digestion industry.

BiogenGreenfinch chief executive Dan Poulson said: “The consolidation of two such complementary businesses enables a significant increase in R&D

investment, improving further on the second generation AD plant currently under construction and ten further plants in development.”

Biogen was established in 2005 to develop a new “closed loop” system of anaerobic digestion where the process takes place on farmland. This innovative initiative is integrated with the operations of the farm and produces renewable energy from the recycling of food chain waste.

Its pioneering Twinwoods AD plant, a full-scale commercial 42,000 tonne plant in operation since 2005, operates in harmony with the farming environment in co-operation with Biogen’s sister company Bedfordia Farms.

The system is a closed loop - slurry from the pig farm is pumped directly into the anaerobic digestion unit and bio-fertiliser from the AD unit is put directly on to the arable land.

Earlier this year the firm received planning permission for its second anaerobic digestion plant in the UK.

Northamptonshire county council approved a proposal to build a facility to process 41,000 tonnes of food waste a year at Westwood near Rushden.

Birmingham-based Wragge & Co Projects and Corporate teams advised on the merger deal.