We all are proud that Republic Services is an industry leader in recycling and waste disposal. But did you know that Republic is also a leader in composting – in California, Oregon and other markets in the West?
This week is International Compost Awareness Week (ICAW), and for the first time Republic Services is an official sponsor. ICAW is the largest and most comprehensive education initiative of the compost industry. Blue Nation thought a great way to mark the week would be to highlight this lesser-known part of our business.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), yard and food waste make up about 30 percent of the municipal solid waste that’s sent to landfills. However, diverting this material to compost facilities can create a nutrient rich soil amendment known as compost.
Republic’s compost facilities use a natural biological process to transform yard and food waste into compost. This compost is then marketed and sold to landscapers, golf courses and farmers, and even to some brands you’d recognize at your local home-improvement store.
Republic has 11 compost facilities across five states, with a total of 85 employees. A 12th facility, in Ohio, is scheduled to open this quarter. Each year, we process 1.7 billion pounds of organic waste.
Chris S., Director of Organics Operations, and Association of Compost Producers Board Member, explained how composting complements Republic’s other offerings.
“Green waste and food waste collection typically supplement our trash and recycling services. These additional services help our customers comply with new organics legislation across the country,” he said. “In addition, many of our compost facilities are co-located on landfills, and that enables us to maximize our operations.”
Half of our composting facilities are technologically advanced, using mechanical aeration to speed up the biological process and reduce odors. The facility at our Otay Landfill in Chula Vista, CA, is completely off the grid, utilizing Gore technology with solar-powered fans that aerate the organic material. In the future there will be a continued trend toward technologically advanced composting.
The Otay facility is one of six in California, where there is a greater demand due to legislation mandating the diversion of organic waste from landfills. California disposes of approximately 20 million tons of organics each year, and current legislation requires that 75% of the organics be diverted from the landfill by 2025. In coming years, similar requirements are expected in more markets – meaning even more food and yard waste will need to be processed, creating additional business opportunities.
“I have been in the organics industry for 20 years, and there is more opportunity today than there ever has been,” Chris said. “Organics diversion is being debated across the county, and legislation is driving it out of landfills. The organics industry is an emerging industry with an enormous amount of opportunity.”