Waste with a Purpose

CompostNow

12. Responsible Consumption and Production 13. Climate Action 15. Life on Land

Overview

CompostNow is a doorstep compost collection service to end food waste. Beyond the business, CompostNow is a movement that supports the creation of waste-free communities where it is referred to as the “community food waste shuttle.” Their goal is to empower community members and local businesses to compost, resulting in less garbage in landfills. Nutrients from food waste also build nutrient-rich soil while reducing greenhouse gases to help fight climate change.

Authors

Heidi Cassano

Heidi Cassano

John Timpanaro

John Timpanaro

freddy guzman

freddy guzman

Laura Purdy

Laura Purdy

School

Fairleigh Dickinson University Petrocelli College of Continuing Studies

Fairleigh Dickinson University Petrocelli College of Continuing Studies

Professor

Aixa Ritz

Aixa Ritz

Innovation

CompostNow is a business that began in 2011 to eliminate food waste. It is a consumer service provided to communities and businesses in Raleigh, NC, Atlanta, GA and Charleston, SC area with a bigger vision to have compost collection services all over the country. Its service is to provide bins for residential customers, carts to businesses and step cans to offices so that everyone can compost their waste. The company picks up the food waste, composts it, then returns it to the customer or donates it to a local community garden or farm. CompostNow works with local community gardens and farms in their Garden Partner program helping these businesses to cut their costs in compost material. The company offers both home or commercial plans; the home plans offer weekly pickups and are charged monthly, while the commercial plans can be customized to a business’s specific needs. For commercial plans, the carts are weighed and the diversion weights are tracked so that the businesses can celebrate their environmental impact. The home plans also allow for tracking environmental impact in the member dashboards.

CompostNow’s main goal is to reduce how much waste is being dumped into landfills. The way that they achieve this is through empowering communities to compost a large percentage of their food waste, which in turn creates, nutrient-rich soil. The process is a controlled breakdown of organic material into the soil that can be put back into the earth to grow nutrient-rich foods. Matt Rostetter, the founder of CompostNow, started the company when he realized there were multiple benefits to composting. He started by driving around in his car picking up waste and eventually made it into a scalable business that would help the environment and educate many people. He provided this service alone at first but after a year, he knew that for it to become successful, and most importantly reach his goal, he needed a business plan.

He hired co-founders Justin Senkbeil and Dominique Bischof to help him grow financially and technologically. Senkbeil dropped out of college and joined Rostetter to run the business, while Bischof signed on to help with technological operations. CompostNow has grown into a fully operational business that educates communities on the importance of managing waste. The company started with the goal of one man who wanted to live sustainably and is now a fully developed business that is making a change for the betterment of the planet. CompostNow promotes healthier soil to grow food, cuts down on pollution, fights climate change and helps communities be more aware of limited resources. CompostNow's mission in a phrase is to “starve landfills and build healthier soil.”

Waste with a Purpose

Inspiration

CompostNow was inspired by the dream of one man named Matt Rostetter, from Raleigh, North Carolina. Living in an apartment building, he witnessed tons of garbage being recklessly tossed away for landfills and realized the need for composting was urgent. He did not want to wait for the city to take action and knew he needed to do something immediately. Kat Nigro, the Marketing Director for CompostNow, said, “Matt Rostetter didn’t know how to start but knew he needed to do something about it now” and that’s how CompostNow evolved. He started by collecting food scraps from all his friends and family and composting it for them. He then did some research and saw that no one in Raleigh, NC was composting which led him to take a big risk and quit his job to start this new venture. Living in a big city like Raleigh, presented many opportunities for composting with all the apartment complexes and buildings that produced waste, so Matt knew it would be a great place for his composting business.

Overall impact

The impact of CompostNow’s innovation has diverted millions of pounds of food waste from our landfills. Eighteen million pounds have been taken away from the landfills by CompostNow members since 2011 and 2 million pounds of greenhouse gases have been avoided which helps fight climate change. Since 60% of waste is compostable and 40% of food waste is sent to the landfills, CompostNow’s goal is to have everyone composting to reduce the overall carbon footprint from waste. Food waste emits methane gas which is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Because of this methane gas, landfills are hazardous and affect the surrounding communities. By reducing the amount of waste in landfills, CompostNow is helping to create a healthier environment. Composting impacts the quality of soil by returning nutrients into the dirt, which results in more nutrient-rich foods. Six million pounds of nutrient-rich compost has been created from CompostNow members' food scraps since 2011. One million pounds of compost has been created for community gardens and urban farms, resulting in $44,000 in savings on compost costs for the garden partners of CompostNow. Composting also reduces the need for herbicides and fertilizers.

Business benefit

Local farms, community gardens, and schools all benefit from CompostNow through the garden partner program. Members can donate their compost back to businesses that decrease their compost costs. CompostNows’ model is to make composting easy, clean and convenient for local businesses especially. One-third of CompostNow’s members are businesses. Local business is the fastest-growing segment of their company. Businesses also benefit from knowing they are doing something good for the environment and helping to close the nutrient-loop. Kat Nigro stressed the importance of the nutrient cycle which returns nutrients into the soil from where they came. When food scraps end up in landfills the nutrients are wasted and break the natural process of this cycle. Composting puts the nutrients back into the soil giving it the necessary organic material needed to grow healthy food. Impact reporting is provided for businesses that compost with CompostNow which helps to measure, track, share, and celebrate their sustainability efforts. It can also attract employees who want to be part of a company that is eco-friendly. Creating good community support among the local farmers and gardens is also a benefit for businesses who donate their compost back to them.

Social and environmental benefit

The environmental benefits of CompostNow’s business are perhaps the most impactful. Composting reduces the carbon footprint from waste, which in turn helps fight climate change. Composting also produces healthy soil resulting in more nutrient-rich foods. Applying compost to large parts of the land reduces the carbon in our atmosphere and compost stores 5 times its weight in water that helps with droughts and flooding. CompostNow's bigger vision is to see services like theirs in every state. Nigro says the demand and interest for composting are there, as well as the importance for every individual household to start composting. The average household member with CompostNow composts 10 pounds per week. Education and outreach are also important aspects of the company and a demonstration site is used to educate and show how composting is done. They also visit schools to talk about the importance of composting. Informed people tend to become members which in turn will help to grow the movement. CompostNow is also a sustainable employer. They provide good, green jobs at a minimum wage of $15/hr.

Interview

Kat Nigro, Head of Marketing and Engagement

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CompostNow

CompostNow

Raleigh, North Carolina, US

Business Website: compostnow.org

Year Founded: 2011

Number of Employees: 51 to 200

CompostNow is a doorstep collection service of food waste. Their goal is to empower community members and local businesses to compost, resulting in less garbage in landfills. The compost is returned as nutrient rich soil to local gardens and farms.