Aug. 24—Green Energy Biofuel is a rapidly growing recycling business in Aiken County, but many local residents aren't aware of its existence.
"For the most part people don't know about us," said co-founder and co-owner Joe Renwick, who was the guest speaker during the Rotary Club of Aiken's meeting Monday at Newberry Hall. "We're in a quiet corner diligently working away and struggling and toiling, and we're making it."
Renwick started Midlands Biofuels LLC, in 2008 with one of his former football teammates at The Citadel, Brandon Spence, according to gebiofuel.com. Three years later, the two ended their partnership, and Renwick's wife, Beth, who is a medical doctor, became the company's majority owner in 2012.
Midlands Biofuels changed its name to Green Energy Biofuel in 2016.
The company began operating in Aiken County four years ago.
From restaurants and other sources, Green Energy Biofuel collects waste cooking oil, fats and greases.
"We pull out all of the waste solids — bits and pieces and crumbs — as well as water, and we refine that product into a fuel that can run later in a diesel engine," Renwick said.
So far in 2022, Green Energy Boiofuel's Aiken County plant, located in the Graniteville/Warrenville area, has produced and sold 2.3 million gallons of fuel, which is equal to 18 million pounds.
The volume so far is equal to the total for all of 2021.
During the last seven months, Green Energy Biofuel has sold 500,000 gallons of fuel, or 2.7 million pounds, per month.
"Just this year alone, we've already done $1.8 million of additional investment," Renwick said. "I think that brings our four-year investment in Aiken County in this facility to $7 million or $8 million."
A recent acquisition, a depackaging machine, has enhanced Green Energy Biofuel's recycling capability.
The machine separates expired or damaged packaged food from its containers.
Vegetable oil extracted from the food waste is used to produce biofuel.
Food waste also is a good composting ingredient.
"We recently purchased a composting company to support our biofuel company, and we are creating engineered soils," Renwick said. "We can make potting soil. We can make top dress soil for lawns and gardens. And we can make a raised bed mix."
Green Energy Biofuel has more than 40 employees in Aiken County.
"We are really blessed to have found a wonderful home here," Renwick said. "
The company also has a facility in Winnsboro, and its ReSoil Compost operation is based in Elgin.
There are other Green Energy Biofuel facilities in North Carolina and Tennessee.
The publishers of SC Biz News and the Best Companies Group named Green Energy Biofuel as one of the Best Places to Work in South Carolina in 2022.