The factory was previously a privately owned bio-diesel production plant, but management difficulties and the unpredictable regulation of the bio-fuels market led to its closure last year.
Now the worker co-operative — the UK’s longest established bio-diesel manufacturer — has taken on the plant and is confident it can make it profitable and sustainable.
Jan Cliff, a founder and director of the co-op, said that because Sundance is a community-based, ethical business that uses recycled vegetable oil to manufacture bio-diesel, it has strong local support and enjoys a market advantage that many other businesses operating in this sector do not.
She said: “We find that many of our customers don’t want the tokenistic five per cent blends available on some forecourts, but prefer to buy 100 per cent recycled biodiesel.
“They are finding it no more expensive — in fact, some report savings as their car runs more efficiently. We have to follow the market, but our customers’ willingness to support our co-operative business model gives us the edge.”
The new plant will soon be fully operational again and Sundance, which is a member of Co-operatives UK, will build on existing collection rounds for used oil in the area to source the quantities needed for the much larger plant. The co-op already supplies Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, the National Trust and the Forestry Commission, as well as many individuals, businesses and community bio-diesel filling stations in South Wales. The new plant will enable Sundance to produce 40 tonnes of bio-diesel per week.
Sundance was able to finance the purchase of the new factory with the help of Good Fuel, a UK-wide co-operative of bio-diesel manufacturers and suppliers, which recently undertook a share issue to raise finance for ventures that bring bio-diesel into the mainstream diesel market. It has raised £40,000 so far, £28,000 of which has been invested in Sundance’s new venture.
• Visit: www.sundancerenewables.org.uk for further details on the co-operative.