Rotting fruit & vegetables: a growth industry

Did you know it’s International Compost Awareness Week? Yeah, just found out myself… but agree that composting is a topic worthy of celebration and education. Most of us probably associate the word with backyard bins and piles (or smells coming from the neighbors’ bins or piles), but it’s also turning into a big business… largely because both large waste haulers and smart entrepreneurs are recognizing not only the demand for this “black gold,” but also that the raw materials are available for free.

The business angle is what struck Brigham Young University student Dan Blake upon seeing all the food waste piled up at a local eatery. After a bit of research, Dan figured there may be high profit margins in rotting fruits and vegetables, and founded Ecoscraps with classmates Brandon Sargent and Craig Martineau. Finding the right combination of materials was the first order of business, so these young entrepreneurs went dumpster diving and started composting what they hauled away. They quickly discovered what worked and what didn’t: Dan told Inc. magazine writer Kasey Wehrum “The compost we made from Chinese restaurant Dumpsters was terrible… It killed plants within 12 hours.”

It turns out Dan was right about the business potential: only a year later, they’ve hired eight full-time employees and 14 part-timers, expanded into Tempe, Arizona (with two other Western locations planned), and are projecting $1.5 million in sales of their Harvest Plenty and Clean Earth Soils compost brands… not bad for just over a year in business.

Ecoscraps is just one company featured in Inc.‘s special report on social entrepreneurship… a number of great stories here! Check out the article on the composting company, and watch the interview above with Arizona PBS.

We’ve featured compost entrepreneurs before… if you know of others, tell us about them!

via @triplepundit