International Compost Week Q&A

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Five Questions with Chris S., Director of Organics Operations

[/av_textblock] [av_textblock size='16' font_color='' color='' av-medium-font-size='' av-small-font-size='' av-mini-font-size='' admin_preview_bg=''] It’s a big week for composters! International Compost Awareness Week, May 5 – 11, is the largest and most comprehensive education initiative for the compost industry. Here at Republic Services, Chris S. Director, Organics Operations, is our resident expert on the importance of composting and the long-term benefits from organics recycling. Chris recently sat down with the Blue Nation team to explain what composting is all about and why composting is important to our business.

It’s cool that we are extending Earth Day momentum with International Compost Awareness Week. Can you explain the basics of composting and how composting supports our Blue Planet® sustainability initiative?
Composting is a natural decomposition process that transforms organic waste into a rich soil amendment referred to as compost. Our compost facilities primarily recycle green waste and food waste into a compost product that is marketed and sold to customers. Compost has many benefits for our Blue Planet, such as increased nutrients for plants and reduced water consumption.

How is composting a business opportunity for us? And, can you tell us more about our composting sites in California?
Many cities and states across the nation are implementing landfill organics bans and organics collection mandates. In California, it is estimated that approximately 22 million tons of organics are landfilled each year. There is a significant opportunity to grow our organics collection and composting business to meet the growing demand.

We currently operate six compost facilities in California that process approximately 400,000 tons per year. The facilities are in Milpitas, Richmond, Manteca, Chino, Oceanside and Chula Vista. These facilities compost using various composting technologies such as standard windrow composting, positive aeration and negative aeration.  Four of the compost facilities can reduce odors and emissions using a biofilter.

What do you think our Company’s responsibility is in shaping and influencing the direction of composting, as part of our commitment to being stewards of the environment?
Existing markets have largely been created through legislation and it’s our responsibility to be active in the legislative and rule-making process so that we can identify and act on opportunities for the benefit of our customers. Within the compost industry, Republic Services is considered a large composting company ― which isn’t widely known.  We are members and actively participate at the United States Composting Council and the Association of Compost Producers.

How can all of us show our love for the planet during International Compost Awareness Week?
International Compost Awareness Week offers us a great opportunity to educate our customers regarding composting. We can plan compost awareness activities with our customers in our local and regional areas that operate a compost facility or have organics collection.

On an individual level, there are many ways you can take action in your community. Visit the Composting Council Research & Education Foundation website for ideas on how to get started.

We talk a lot about recycling, and not so much about composting. Do you think that’s going to be changing in the future? What can we look forward to in composting programs?
Composting is an emerging business which is currently being driven by regulation across the country. States like California are forcing organics out of the landfill, which provides an opportunity for composting to grow considerably in the coming years.

Thank you, Chris for sharing your important work and helping us better understand composting!
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