Compost for Good awarded funding to stimulate organics recycling business development

AdkAction is delighted to announce that they have received a grant in the amount of $90,825 for their Compost for Good (CfG) project through the USDA’s Rural Business Development Grant Program (RBDG) to foster the development of community-scale composting businesses. 

The rollout of the NYS Food Donation and Food Scraps Recycling Law in 2022 offers enormous opportunities for developing businesses focused on the recycling of organic material. When food scraps are placed in landfills they produce methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. When food scraps are composted they become a valuable resource—producing healthier and more productive soils. Under the right conditions, soils are one of the largest carbon sinks on the planet, second only to the worlds’ oceans. Sequestering carbon in soils is a tremendous climate change mitigation opportunity.

In an effort to combat climate change while also promoting economic prosperity, AdkAction’s Compost for Good team will use the RBDG funding to build on their past work and further refine their design of an affordable, easy to manufacture community-scale composter. 

In 2016, Compost for Good’s John Culpepper conceived of the idea of using readily available materials to design an in-vessel composter capable of processing over 50,000 pounds of unsorted food waste per year. With the help of the New York Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA), John was able to facilitate the building of a composter for North Country School/Camp Treetops. With additional funding from NYSERDA, John was able to gift three more of these composters, built by Adirondack-based Greg LeClair, to the Shipman Youth Center, Hermon DeKalb Central School, and the Wild Center. 

The publicly available design document, operating manual and other support materials available for public access, led to international interest in the drum composter, and community-scale composting in general. John found himself responding to a significant volume  of requests for site visits, phone conversations, email questions, and tours. To meet this demand, he partnered with Katie Culpepper and ANCA project manager Jennifer Perry to secure a grant through the Pollution Prevention Institute (PPI) to offer technical support and education to increase awareness and implementation of community-scale composting. During this time they joined forces with AdkAction.  

Through a competitive bid process, CfG will select a local manufacturer to construct an in-vessel composter, and use that buildout as an educational opportunity for others. The construction process will be open to the public with instructional videos and updates available for those seeking to replicate the design. Case studies, business plan templates, discussion forums, technical assistance, site visits, and networking opportunities will also be made available to support any entrepreneur, organization, business, or community interested in upcycling organics in Clinton, St Lawrence, Franklin and Essex Counties. 

The team hopes this will spur a compost equipment manufacturing boom, creating local jobs and business opportunities.

If you have an idea for an organics recycling business, or have any questions about how CfG could help your community, contact the CfG team at: compostforgood@adkaction.org.

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