Compost Startup Helps Restaurants Cut Costs A new green startup business in New Hampshire collects compostable material from local cafes and restaurants. The company's business model is to help restaurants be more eco-friendly -- and save money on trash removal.
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Compost Startup Helps Restaurants Cut Costs

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Compost Startup Helps Restaurants Cut Costs

Compost Startup Helps Restaurants Cut Costs

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

We go to New Hampshire now where a new green business start-up collects material from local cafes and restaurants, refuse that can be composted. The idea is that restaurant owners can be more eco-friendly and save money on trash removal. New Hampshire Public Radio's Avishay Artsy has the story.

AVISHAY ARTSY: Just before dinner at the Black Trumpet Restaurant in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the staff is scurrying around the cramped kitchen.

(Soundbite of banging)

ARTSY: Evan Mallett is the chef and co-owner. He picks a small soft-shell crab out of a bucket and rolls it in cornmeal.

Mr. EVAN MALLETT (Chef, Co-Owner, Black Trumpet Restaurant): And then I'm going to drop it in the pan and everyone's going to want to stand back because they have the tendency to explode.

ARTSY: Mallett says he's long wanted to compost, but no one could offer regular pickups, and their tiny restaurant has no extra space for storage.

Mr. MALLETT: Not only inside the restaurant but also outside. We don't have a back alley. We don't have a parking lot. We don't have a place for the dumpster.

ARTSY: But then a young, idealistic entrepreneur named Rian Bedard offered a solution. Bedard had recently moved from San Francisco. That city requires that all residents separate their trash and compost. Bedard was inspired to try to bring curbside compost pickup to New Hampshire's seacoast.

In November, he and a friend started the company EcoMovement. They haul their clients' compostable waste to two local facilities, where it's broken down and sold to landscapers and farmers. Rather than a flat fee, the restaurants pay based on the amount of waste they produce.

Mr. RIAN BEDARD (Co-Founder, EcoMovement): We try to reduce the rate, because we think it's unbelievable what most of the companies are charging. And we want people to be incentivized, not only by the cost savings, but by doing this for the environmental reasons. So, we just looked at their overall costs and reduced it by 15 to 20 percent.

ARTSY: Evan Mallett of the Black Trumpet estimates the service will save him about $150 a month.

Mr. MALLETT: Something that is good for the environment, good for the world around us, also costs less money. It's a no-brainer.

ARTSY: Currently, about 30 businesses contract through EcoMovement for compost removal. One client is Bella Sol Restaurant. Jeffery Cobbs is the head chef.

Mr. JEFFREY COBBS (Head Chef, Bella Sol Restaurant): As soon as you put the procedure in place, it's very easy. You take your compost bucket, you have it online with you, you throw all of your scraps from the produce that you get -and it goes out at the end of the night, and those guys come and pick it up for you.

ARTSY: Bella Sol owner Brian Pearson estimates it's cut the restaurant's trash removal expenses by at least 75 percent. That means the company that hauls their trash, Waste Management, earns less money. But Steve Cates, the company's district manager, says EcoMovement is not viewed as competition.

Mr. STEVE CATES (District Manager, Waste Management): The company is very supportive of recycling. Do we look at this as a threat? Absolutely not.

ARTSY: Cates won't say if Waste Management will eventually offer its own compost services. Bedard says that could put his operation out of business. But he wouldn't consider it a failure, he says, because he would have shown that the demand for composting exists.

For NPR News, I'm Avishay Artsy in New Hampshire.

MONTAGNE: This is NPR News.

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