Conor Miller, CEO and founder of Black Earth Compost, addressed the Falmouth Solid Waste Advisory Committee on Tuesday, May 4thThe company’s “ultimate goal is to create good soil” to improve the planet.
Black Earth was founded in Gloucester in 2011 and, according to its website, has grown to become the leading full-service composting company in New England.
The company serves everything from “supermarkets to offices and apartments. The more stops, the closer, the cheaper everything can be. We try to pass any savings directly on to customers, ”said Miller.
Compostable waste accounts for approximately 36 percent of total waste collected by weight. Therefore, removing it from the waste stream is an important step. Black Earth is trying to do just that.
Black Earth collects municipal data in some cities, resulting in higher participation rates from residents.
“It’s not 100 percent that everyone will do it. I think it will take a long time to finish, ”said Miller.
The company also has drop-off boxes and private roadside pick-up in some cities.
Black Earth acquired routes from Falmouth company Compost with Me last year and began servicing Falmouth in August. Twice a week they gathered around 120 households as well as six commercial stops, including the transfer station.
“Our plan is to expand the program and lower prices for residents over time. Weekly pickup is $ 99 for six months. If Falmouth hits 500 people, we’ll bring the price down to $ 69. Then we’ll bring it down to $ 49 for a thousand people, ”Miller said.
Black Earth can hold all sorts of things that people in their backyards don’t want to compost – like meat, bones, and dairy products – because they attract rats.
“Rats are exploding all over New England because of the warmer winters,” he noted.
Black Earth does not yet have a location on the Cape as it currently lacks throughput.
“We’d want one in two years unless someone else had one, and then we don’t need one. Right now there is no place where we know we can bring food waste to the Cape, ”Miller said.
Black Earth also has programs with schools because they teach the younger generations the importance of composting and growing their own food.
“Schools are kind of cool because you achieve both goals. We pick up the food waste and they often have raised beds and teach kids to garden and they eat the food in the cafeteria, ”Miller said.
“We like to go to elementary schools because this is the age at which children are most receptive and interested.
“We want to promote local food production. People eat much healthier. It keeps them from interacting with other people outside, so it’s good for all sorts of reasons. “
Composting food waste and returning the compost to the soil are important steps in this process.
“Food waste is half the problem. The second half brings that back into the ground. The ground makes everything above the ground healthy, ”Miller said.
“If we don’t take care of the land, we will have economic disasters and health disasters. The amount of nutrients in our food has decreased by about half over the past 50 years.
“The floor is like a bank. We keep pulling back and not paying in, so we go bankrupt.
“The soil is a living organism. It’s a barrier, but it’s also a vital organ. The more alive the soil, the more life it can sustain.
“Compost is called organic matter because it contains tons of tiny insects that are alive. The beetles play a role in transporting nutrients from the soil into plants, ”he said.
Massachusetts is addressing the waste crisis. A law passed in 2014 states that any company or organization that produces more than a ton of food waste per week must compost it or somehow divert it for digestion or animal feed. That amount will drop to half a ton this fall.
The change will “affect most medium to large restaurants, large schools and hospitals. Anyone who wasn’t sure if they were going to be hit by a ton will be affected now, and that’s a significant amount, “Miller said.
There is also a problem with what to do with the compost once it has been created.
“If we collect food waste all over the place, we’re going to produce tons of compost and that could add to the cost of collecting if we can’t get rid of the compost,” said Mr. Miller.
Some cities “have seen this and introduced 1 percent organic matter in all new projects that require soil, which is good for a number of other reasons such as rainwater runoff and water retention,” he added.