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Harvest Power Cuts Deal with Waste Management, Snags More VC Cash

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Harvest Power, which builds, owns and operates facilities to turn yard clippings and other organic waste into renewable energy and composted soil, announced today that it is partnering with Waste Management (s WM), a leading waste services company, to expand its organics recycling operations. As part of the agreement, Waste Management — along with returning venture backers Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Munich Venture Partners — has invested an undisclosed amount into the Waltham, Mass.-based startup.

The partnership with Waste Management represents a major milestone for Harvest Power, which was founded in 2008 and so far has just one facility up and running: its Fraser Richmond plant near Vancouver, Canada. The deal gives Harvest Power a well-established partner in the waste businesses, and it paves the way for the startup to access organic waste (feedstock for its recycling processes) from Waste Management’s operations across the United States and Canada. Waste Management serves more than 20 million customers through a network of 367 collection operations, 273 active landfill disposal sites and 134 recycling plants.

Harvest Power chief executive Paul Sellew told us that the two companies are still working out the details of their agreement, but it likely will involve the startup building and operating recycling plants at select Waste Management facilities. “They have a great infrastructure in place, and it only makes sense to utilize that,” Sellew said.

Harvest Power’s business is to convert renewable organic materials from municipal and other waste streams into fuels such as biogas and compressed natural gas, as well as composted soil. The startup plans to use onsite combined heat and power systems to convert much of the fuel into electricty, which would be sold to utilities. The compost would be marketed to communities near the processing plants. Yard trimmings and food residuals account for about a quarter of the total U.S. municipal solid waste stream, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Harvest, which has some proprietary technology around composting but uses processes developed by Germany’s Bekon Energy Technology and others for converting the waste into renewable forms of energy, aims to build as many as 50 facilities in North America over the next 4-6 years, Sellew told us. Each facility would be able to process at least 30,000 tons of organic waste – or about what a community of 100,000 produces – per year, depending on the availability of feedstock. The startup has so far raised $40 million in equity, debt and grants, including this latest round of funding.

Image courtesy of Harvest Power. It shows steaming at a composting vessel at the Fraser Richmond plant.