I found a new favorite start-up today: Earth Baby. Three Bay Area families with babies were disgusted at the amount of diaper waste they were producing. Earth Baby was created to solve that problem by providing, collecting and composting compostable diapers for families with newborn babies throughout the Bay Area. Their singular mission is to keep disposable baby diapers out of the landfill. One baby creates about 10 pounds of diaper waste each week! And even if your city composts, it does not accept human waste. Cloth diapers are another solution, however they require rigorous laundering which uses much more energy than Earth Baby’s composting solution.
Earth Baby is itself still in diapers. Launching in January of 2009 with 17 customers, Earth Baby now serves 700 customers in the area and composts nearly 7,000 pounds of baby waste each week. “We are building our business on word of mouth alone,” Earth Baby CEO Mark Siminoff told me. And already the company is profitable. In start-up land, breaking even within a year of launch is certainly noteworthy, even brag-worthy.
So how does it work?
Earth Baby sells compostable diapers (among other biodegradable complementary products), and then picks up the soiled diapers on a weekly basis. For $29.99 per month customers get weekly drop-off and pickup of their diapers.
The diapers are composted at a local commercial facility (Siminoff would not disclose which one), where they are composted using a process known as Aerated Static Pile Composting. The piles must be monitored to make sure they reach and maintain a temperature of at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit for the course of 14 weeks. This temperature is achieved naturally through the composting process, and no additional energy is needed to heat the pile. This process ensures that any viruses or unwanted bacteria in the human waste are killed. Note this is not something you could do in the typical American backyard, especially at 10 pounds a week in volume, hence the need for services like Earth Baby’s.
The resulting compost is sold as topsoil for use on golf courses, large scale landscaping projects, and roadside agricultural projects among other things.
Developing the infrastructure for this service has been a key challenge and Siminoff mentioned that their current growth rate of 60 to 70 new customers a month is “faster than is comfortable.” Maintaining an excellent customer experience has been their top priority. Siminoff plans to open a second location in California this year and a few more in 2011.
I think this is a no-brainer. For families that can afford $360 per year to divert nearly 500 pounds of diaper waste from the landfills, this makes perfect sense to me.
What do you think? Would you use Earth Baby’s service? Why or why not?