In July this year, a HERU was installed at the restaurant of Hillers Farm Shop. The remit – push it to the limit and see what the HERU can handle. We talk with Chris Grimes, Restaurant Manager, to see how the team got on.
Can you briefly set the scene at Hillers – what’s the size of the restaurant and where are you based?
We are located near to the market town of Alcester in Warwickshire, close to Ragley Hall. We’re a busy rural centre made up of a farmshop, restaurant, gift shop and garden centre.
The restaurant seats nearly 200 people, and we are really busy for breakfast, lunch and afternoon teas every day.
What were you looking to solve with the HERU?
We are always looking for ways to reduce our impact on the environment and when we heard that Nik Spencer was developing this machine, we were really keen to trial it here at Hillers.
How has the HERU been used at Hillers?
Just before I go home every day, rather than taking out the bins, I fill up the HERU with what I consider to be unrecyclable waste.
One of the purposes of any trial is to test a solution to the extreme – how have you taken to the challenge and put the HERU through its paces?
So, the team at Hillers decided to accept the challenge and put the machine to the test, as Nik wanted. The butcher gave me a pig’s head in the first week and the only thing left after 24 hours in the HERU was a huge energy reading that Nik recorded back at his base.
Apart from that, we’ve had days where we operated solely cardboard and paper. We’ve had days
where we solely on operate it on plastic, vegetables and on one very special day an out of date apple and rhubarb crumble!
The instructions state, no glass or metal is to be put in says the machine, so of course we put metal and glass in. No great excitement. No explosions, we just took it out the next day.
We even put a big stone in one day. The next day the stone was still warm and just a bit darker in colour.
Are there any issues you found in working with the HERU? Smells, smoke etc?
No smells or smoke but of course there were a few technical issues Nik had, I think, but as the whole purpose of the trial was to improve the machine by testing its limits then…..
Nik always seemed far from unhappy when there were a few niggles. He gets a cup of our excellent tea when he comes so maybe that’s the reason!!
How have staff found using the HERU?
At first it is a bit daunting running this amazing machine but there’s nothing to it after a few goes.
A bit of char comes off occasionally but nothing to worry about really. Certainly nothing to clean. I like that about it. Almost maintenance-free. Just a bottle of detergent once a week to help with the self-cleaning.
Has your landfill gone down?
It has gone down and we anticipate it will be a lot more when the commercial machine has been developed.
Anything else you’d like to say about the HERU?
I am really excited to see how this machine develops and as to how quickly it gets adopted into the mainstream. I have become slightly evangelical about the HERU and tell everyone a lot about it whether they want to hear about it or not.
It’d be great to have one at my house. The benefits are huge.