Waste not, rot not: Asheville may get the service, if Compost Now comes to town

Good dirt at your doorstep: Raleigh-based company says it needs 300 people to sign up to start business in Asheville.

Like a seedling nourished by fecund soil, Raleigh-based compost-pickup service CompostNow is growing, and they are hungry for Asheville’s food scraps.

For a small monthly fee, participants receive a container to fill with organic matter, which CompostNow picks up weekly, leaving in its place a clean bin and, per request, a share of nutrient-rich soil, compost-fairy style. Or, for those who prefer clean fingernails, members can opt to send their earthy goodness to a local community garden of choice.

Though Asheville is touted as a progressive bright spot on the South’s conservative map, the city lacks municipal composting, a service that San Francisco’s residents have been legally required to participate in for the past three years.

Enter Matt Rostetter, a bearded, tattooed 30-something who in 2010 recognized a similar need in his hometown of Raleigh, and decided to leave his desk job to do something about it. Modeled after the CSA produce delivery model, his company CompostNow saw its humble beginnings with Rostetter in the driver’s seat of his Honda Element, navigating the Triangle area, the back seat loaded down with rotting food.

“I do miss the paycheck [from my old job], but it feels great to be doing something that makes a difference,” says the self-described sustainably minded Rostetter.

The company has recently blossomed, expanding under the guidance of business-savvy Justin Senkbeil, the company’s CEO and co-founder, a “skinny red-headed kid who kept coming up to me wanting to talk about composting, and was really excited about it,” Rostetter says. “I finally decided to hear him out a year later. He was fresh out of business school and was able to do overnight what I hadn’t been able to do in a year by myself. The financial side of things was giving me nightmares.”

The current counter of CompostNow’s website shows the company has successfully diverted more than 42,000 pounds of Raleigh and the Triangle’s organic waste from the landfill, and turned it into soil.

“We are trying to change the way we are handling waste and growing our food,” Rostetter says. Their mission is a simple one: to make all communities compostable. The company targets apartment and town-home dwellers, those with small yards or people who just prefer to send their organic matter elsewhere.

These days you can find Rostetter happily running his routes behind the wheel of the company’s very own Dodge Sprinter van.

CompostNow only needs one key ingredient to kick-start this earthy venture in your neighborhood: customer support.

“We need at least 300 people to show interest by signing up on our website to make this move sustainable,” says Senkbeil. “After that, things should happen pretty quickly.” CompostNow aims to be fully operational a month or two after securing a client base.

Signing up is obligation-free, so those interested in supporting effortless composting in Asheville can visit CompostNow’s website at http://www.compostnow.org/asheville.

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One thought on “Waste not, rot not: Asheville may get the service, if Compost Now comes to town

  1. David Bruce

    Question for the CompostNow folks is “Where are you going to open your composting facility?” I’m well tied in with Asheville City and Buncombe County Solid waste divisions and I know of only one licensed composting location in all of Western North Carolina and that is a partnership with the City of Asheville and Danny’s Dumpster. Also, I’m privy to conversations stating that CompostNow will NOT have access to Danny’s Composting facility, so the question again. “When you collect residential food waste where are you planning to take it?” Are you willing to truck it back to your current composting partner in Raleigh? Or 103 miles to the composting facility in Gastonia? Lots of hype around your coming to Asheville, but it doesn’t appear that you’ve thought through your business model. You’re preying on Asheville’s want and need for Residential composting and you’ll not have the ability to follow through. There is good news for Asheville. The City Public Works Dept is in the process of setting up a Residential composting program that will be tested next year and completely rolled out in 2-3 years (at no additional cost to the tax payers) Hats off to the City of Asheville and Danny’s for all of their work to reduce our dependency on the Landfills. -David

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