“What if we could take our garbage and grow food in it?”
That’s the question I asked my 7-year old daughter and 6-year old son two years ago. Then I watched their eyes light up, and I knew we were onto something.
Compost Cab is in the magic business. We take food waste and turn it into food.
We launched our company in 2010 to pursue two goals:
Make it easier for people to compost in cities, and
Make it easier for urban agriculture to thrive.
Our core business is straightforward. You sign up online. We deliver you a rodent-proof, odor-free compost collection bin, along with an Urban Composting Made Easy guide. You follow our dead-simple directions and fill the bin with your food scraps. And then once a week we come and collect it, leaving you with a nice clean bin, and a clean conscience to match.
We then deliver your food scraps whenever possible to one of our not-for-profit urban farm partners, where your scraps (an excellent source of nitrogen) are combined with wood chips, leaf mulch, and other carboniferous material. Add water, oxygen, and time, and presto – fertile, nutrient rich soil! The farms use most of this soil to grow more food for the communities they serve. And once you’ve been in our system for a while, you, as residential subscriber, can have some of the finished compost, too.
We’re also building a growing commercial service. We work with everyone from small offices to coffee shops to condos to office buildings to hotels. When the material is farm-appropriate, we bring it to the farms. When it’s not (meaning it contains an abundance of soiled paper or compostable tableware or meat and bones), we partner with commercial haulers to make sure the material finds its way to a commercial composting facility capable of handling it properly.
We also offer community compost drop-off at local farmers markets, and work with local schools to integrate composting into their curricula. In aggregate, we currently divert more than 4 tons of organic material from landfills, help create enough new soil to support three urban farms, and touch thousands of people with the habit of composting each week.
To be clear, we didn’t invent composting. Farmers have understood the value of harnessing the natural breakdown of organic materials for agricultural gain for millennia. We haven’t developed any new composting technologies. What makes Compost Cab unique is that we’re making an explicit connection between food waste and food production. Farm-to-table is good, but farm-to-table-to-farm is better. By making that connection, between what we eat and where it comes from, we take what was once considered trash and turn it into a valuable resource. And a profitable business.
And one more thing: We’re building a scalable platform so that anyone with a truck in any city or town can do the same.