The Business of Composting
There's money in them-there banana peels. Organic waste is seen by many as problem, but a good business person knows that any problem can also be an opportunity. Anybody who produces organic waste needs a way to dispose of it (opportunity number one as a service provider) and organics can be turned into value added products (opportunity number two in sales). Saskatchewan entrepreneurs are taking advantage of the occasion on many levels.
On a small scale:
Assiniboia Compost Inc. is an example of entrepreneurs making composting work for them and their town. Glen Munroe and his father David started the business in 2008. They use a standard half-ton truck to pick up non-meat food waste, grass and leaves from residents weekly through the summer months.
There is no charge to town residents for this service; instead they sell the finished compost that they create. The town originally supported them financially until their compost sales covered their operating costs. Since they were diverting yards waste from the landfill, it was worth it to the Town to foster the business. Now they sell enough compost to be independent. Customers include individual residents who pay $4 for a 20lb bag, or landscapers who buy half-ton truck loads for $30.
Vermicomposting is another area where small businesses are sprouting up. Eco Munchers in Saskatoon is one example. It sells red wiggler worms for composting as well as complete kits with instructions.
The type of worms required for composting are not native to Canada, and do not survive in freezing temperatures, so they have to be bred and raised for use here. These red wigglers are best used indoors, which makes them ideal for composting in offices and apartments. They are also popular as fishing bait, so you have two customer bases to work with if you so choose.
On a larger scale:
Deptucks Landscaping in Saskatoon accepts materials from yard care and tree service companies as well as from nearby farms. From these, CompFert Compost is created in a turned-windrow system. It is not their most well-known product, but the feedback from customers who have used it has been very positive.
Serbu Sand and Gravel in White City, just outside Regina, is paid to remove the manure from Heartland Livestock's cattle operation. They take the manure back to their yards and keep it in windrows to sell as aged manure. They currently have more finished product than there is demand for.
Organic byproducts from industry, such as wood waste, grain chaff, etc can also be utilized for their embodied energy and carbon content. Saskatchewan's forestry and agricultural sectors are partnering with new businesses to turn their waste into fuels and fertilizers.
Organic diversion as a commercial venture is still in its fledgling stages, as companies figure out feed-stocks, processes and markets. At the moment, Saskatchewan doesn't have the high tipping fees for waste that act as a driver for composting operations in other provinces. Municipalities who want to encourage businesses to tackle this waste stream might need to examine their tipping fees.
(Source: February 2010 WasteWatch)
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