« Back to Home Page

Sign up for the 3p daily dispatch:

Compost Cab Hauls Away Your Objections

| Friday May 14th, 2010 | 10 Comments

ban-startup-friday

Composting. There’s lots of reasons to do it. And lots of reasons not to. Unless you live in a spacious rural plot or large lotted suburban home, composting is a smelly, pest prone annoyance that the neighbors may be none to pleased to be living near.

Washington D.C. based Compost Cab has devised a way to eliminate all the typical qualms, while creating a viable business for itself.

Here’s how it goes (or will go, once the company launches this spring): Compost Cab provides you with a bin and a compostable liner, then you fill it with your food and plant material. The bin is collected, and a new liner is delivered, each week for $8. The frequency matches that of regular trash collection, so the compost stink issue is largely eliminated. Just to be sure, the bin is leak and rat proof, plus it won’t let odor escape.

The collected materials will be distributed to Engaged Community Offshoots,  a local seed-stage urban farm in neighboring College Park, Maryland, which feeds area kids in need.

After nine months with Compost Cab, customers will start to get more than a warm fuzzy feeling: For every 50 pounds collected, they’ll receive 5 pounds of compost and 1 pound of worm castings. Together, a potent gardening resource.

Going beyond green-minded individuals and effectively addressing businesses with varying motivations, Compost Cab writes,

“Maybe you’re just looking for a cost-effective way to make your business a little bit greener. Or maybe you only serve local, seasonal ingredients and pour fair-trade coffee, and already know you want to compost. Either way, Compost Cab can help. Redefine what you think of as waste in your business. Improve your green profile. Save money. Give back to the community. Improve the environment. Compost Cab also offers a series of innovative marketing programs and community-building initiatives to all our commercial partners.”

Slated to launch this spring, Compost Cab is a business to watch, I can see permutations of it happening in locations around the world.

Readers: What’s your thoughts on Compost Cab and its viability? Any suggestions to improve it? Where else are you seeing businesses making sustainable living easier to do and more beneficial to all?

Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations around, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media.


▼▼▼      10 Comments     ▼▼▼

Newsletter Signup
  • http://www.compostcab.com Jeremy Brosowsky

    Thanks for the shout-out, Paul. “…customers will start to get more than a warm fuzzy feeling.” Love it — can I borrow that line?

    Peace,
    Jeremy

    Jeremy Brosowsky
    founder, Compost Cab

  • Paul Arthur Smith

    Nice! Yes Jeremy, go ahead.

  • Paul Arthur Smith

    Jeremy, Janet Smartt tried to leave a comment here unsuccessfully, and left it where I posted it on Facebook. Here you go:

    This sounds interesting, and I mean no negativity, but I have a few related enviro questions:

    1. What transportation options carry the full and new bins? (Gasoline truck? Biofuel truck? Bike?)
    2. Is a sister service planned where for $8 someone could come on site and tend an on-site compost bin, much like a gardener would tend a lawn once a week, potentially saving GHG's related to transporting material?
    3. It's arguable that those compostable liners really do break down to acceptable levels, even in commercial composting facilities where heat and water are used. Does this new business have the blessing of composting facilities? (although it sounds like it does in that finished compost is delivered)

    Thanks, best of luck,

    Janet

  • Paul Arthur Smith

    And more from Janet:

    PS: Although this is surprising, it has been found that:

    “Biodegradable bags have greater environmental impacts at manufacture, resulting in more GHG emissions and water consumption than conventional plastic bags.”

    So I might suggest not bagging the bins, or perhaps using non-compostable plastic bags which can be either manually or machine opened (and not composted), and ideally recycled afterward.

    Or perhaps the suggested sister service of an on-site composter could wash out the bin, negating the need for a liner at all?

    Source for the compostable vs non compostable plastic bag quote:
    http://www.stopwaste.org/docs/04-13-10_plasticb

    And source and response to the supporting report:

    Attachment 1: Master Environmental Assessment on Single-Use and Reusable Bags
    http://www.stopwaste.org/docs/mea_final_document.pdf
    Attachment 2: StopWaste.Org Comments on Master Environmental Assessment Draft http://www.stopwaste.org/docs/mea_comments1.pdf

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Composting-Council/100001606822958 Composting Council

      First of all, composting need not be either smelly or pest-prone, requiring neither a “spacious rural plot or large lotted suburban home”.

      Second, the quote from stopwaste.org is incorrect, because you cannot make a generic comparison of traditional to compostable plastic bags. The environmental footprint of various resins are not the same. For a good overview of compostable plastics, go to http://compostingcouncil.org/compostable-plastics-symposium/

      Finally, never miss the opportunity to say “compost is heating up!”

  • http://twitter.com/britesprite britesprite

    Great #green idea, good to see composting gaining traction. Over here in the UK things are a little different… local government provides us with a bin which all food, garden etc scraps go into and which they come and empty once a fortnight. No plastic bags involved.

  • Anna

    Nice work! Although, this business model is a copy of GrowingCity.ca – a Vancouver based company that's been serving clients since 2009. Composting is on the rise!

  • Anna

    Nice work! Although, this business model is a copy of GrowingCity.ca – a Vancouver based company that's been serving clients since 2009. Composting is on the rise!

  • james

    about the smelliness
    you can put green bags/compost bin/whatever in the freezer till you’re ready to take them out

  • bruce byrd

    I’m looking to be contacted by some from compost cab so I can get this unique rewarding career started we could sure use this in South Florida (786)525-5423 or email me at evelution21@yahoo.com