At a pioneering papershredding company in Herefordshire, more than a million worms are quietly turning people's personal documents into top quality compost.
Safely disposing of confidential details often poses a problem for businesses but Enviroshred, based near Leominster, has come up with a novel solution - by using private papers in its worm farm.
It is just one of 55 ingenious businesses in Herefordshire and Worcestershire flourishing thanks to almost £900,000 of European Regional Development Fund money distributed by the Regional Technology Exchange Services, based at Malvern Hills Science Park.
Michael Aubrey, who owns Enviroshred, said: "I used to run the family construction business and we had a solicitor in Birmingham who had a great deal of difficulty disposing of out of date records.
"Then a friend of mine, who is a very keen angler, bought some worms, and when they were delivered to him they were in paper from a mill, which had been rotted down and mixed with peat.
"So I knew that worms lived in paper and that people wanted to get rid of it - and it all went from there."
The worms live in a 40-metre-long concrete pit filled with shredded paper, cardboard and apple pumice from the nearby Bulmer's cider factory.
Mr Aubrey said: "I started the worm farm on a small scale about five years ago, and applied for funding about a year ago to make it commercially viable.
" It has made all the difference. The grant helped pay for a website and software to produce a certificate for customers confirming that their documents have been shredded.
"It also paid for engineering work on the premises and some consultancy work and training.
"It's really taken off. I wrote to 100 solicitors and 25 replied immediately. The paper is shredded straight away so nothing confidential is stored.
"We get through about five tonnes of paper a month but we now have the capacity to deal with four or five times that much."
Another local businessman to receive funding from the RTES was Tony Botsman, from Ledbury, who invented the world ' s first giant inflatable conveyor belt to assist with harvesting crops. At 150 metres long, it is the longest portable conveyor system in the world.
Born in Australia, Mr Botsman was inspired while picking olives on a farm, when it struck him that there must be a way to mechanise the system and avoid having to carry picked fruit to the end of each row all the time.
He said: "My conveyor system goes a long way to making the harvesting process more efficient.
"And since launching a prototype at Pershore Horticultural College last year, I have had interest from across the globe - including South Africa, Portugal, Spain, Finland and Australia. We are launching the system commercially on July 27."
The European funding helped to protect the intellectual property rights to the invention and to obtain a British patent.
Mr Botsman said: "The funding was highly appropriate because the product will be sold on the European market, not just in the UK.
"It's a world-first because it deploys instantly. It's 150 metres long and it's working within minutes. The alternative of setting up a rigid conveyor system over that distance would take hours, rather than minutes, and it would take up more space."
As well as fruit and just about any horticultural product that is not automatically harvested, the inflatable conveyor belt can also be used in archaeological excavation, waste-handling, and maritime situations, thanks to its unique ability to float.
A price for the product has not yet been released but Mr Botsman said it would be at least 30 per cent cheaper than any alternative system.