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Composting leaders recognized at USCC’s COMPOST2019

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US Composting Council

Composter of the Year-Small Scale award went to The Compost Company, a 5,000 ton per year facility in Nashville, TN. The company provides both manufacturing and collection from locations such as Music City Center, Nashville’s LEED Gold convention center, as well as The Country Music Hall of Fame which houses three restaurants and caters around 550 events annually, as well as numerous locations around the city through a contract with Metropolitan Nashville.

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Mayor’s Food Saver Challenge Seeks to Cut Local Food Waste

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Nashville Scene | Margaret Littman

Taking a look at programs and organizations that cut waste and redirect food to the hungry

Imagine the entire space of Nissan Stadium filled to the top with uneaten produce. The lettuce you forgot about in the back of your crisper. Those melon-sphere garnishes served with your omelet at brunch last week. Imagine an arena’s worth of that, piled layer upon layer, rotting away every day.

The stats are mind-blowing: Up to 40 percent of all food in the U.S. is thrown away. Every single day, Americans toss out enough food to fill the Titans’ stadium. About 20 percent of all waste in this country’s landfills is food.

And the wasteful part isn’t just the perfectly good food going unused. Every time we toss those leftovers, every time stale bagels from a craft-services table get thrown out, we’re also wasting the natural resources (such as fresh water and crop land) used to produce that food. When organic matter is put into a landfill, it produces methane gas — because oxygen isn’t reaching the organic material, it goes through anaerobic decomposition. And methane is a greenhouse gas.

What’s more, we’re wasting cash. The average family of four throws away about $1,800 in edible food annually. That’s the equivalent of walking into Kroger, buying five bags of groceries and dropping two in the parking lot as you leave, explains Linda Breggin, an environmental lawyer and project coordinator for the Nashville Food Waste Initiative.

OK, so all that waste is bad. But here’s what makes it worse: At least 1 in 8 people in the U.S. is food insecure, meaning they don’t have access to enough to eat due to lack of resources at some point during the year, according to the USDA. Some estimates put the number as high as 1 in 6. In Davidson County, about 100,000 people are food insecure, 25,000 of whom are children, Breggin says.

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Composting Roundup

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Ashland City, Tennessee: Good Year For The Compost Company

The Compost Company took in 5,412 tons of organics in 2018, due in part to partnerships with Marriott Hotels, HCA Hospitals, the Nashville Farmer’s Market, Metro Nashville and Vanderbilt University. It also was named the US Composting Council’s Compost Manufacturer of the Year for 2018. Grant proceeds from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation helped The Compost Company acquire a Brown Industrial food waste collection truck, a Rotochopper grinder and Komptech screen.

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The Compost Company Helping Nashville Businesses go ‘Zero-Waste’

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Once you’re looking for compostable materials, you see them everywhere.

“Unofficially anything that was once alive is compostable. It can be treated instead of trashed,” said Clay Ezell, Co-owner of The Compost Company.

The Compost Company is the only fully-permitted commercial composting facility in Middle Tennessee.

Clay and Jeffery Ezell run the company, on a farm, located just outside Nashville in Ashland City.

Together, they are changing the way Nashville businesses collect and recycle.

“In a perfect world everyone would take care of their own but we handle the commercial waist for the most part. And that’s going to give places like the Farmers’ Market or hotels, or restaurants, grocery stores an outlet for that. Because they don’t have a place to process it on their own,” he said.

Just since April the Nashville Farmers’ Market has composted nearly 80,000 pounds. They’ve even started to use utensils that can be broken down.

“So instead of a traditional plastic there are plastic cups that are made of corn and we can take and process those and turn them back into a soil product,” he said.

Tasha Kenard is the Executive Director at the Nashville Farmers’ Market.

She says composting is getting them closer to their goal of becoming a zero-waste facility by 2020.

“They’re helping us find new ways to reduce our waste,” she said.

The waste collected at the market actually comes full circle. Once it’s collected and taken to get processed it comes back in the form of soil and is later sold as bagged compost at the market or used on area farms.

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Nashville Begins Accepting Table Scraps At Recycling Centers To Cut Down On Food Waste

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Nashville Public Radio | Emily Siner

When Nashville residents drop off their glass bottles, paint cans and old batteries to recycle, they can now also bring food scraps.

The mayor’s office announced Friday that residents can drop off compostable material at the Omohundro and East Convenience Centers. Sustainability manager Mary Beth Ikard says the city audited its waste stream earlier this year and saw a big opportunity.

“The summer season audit showed that over a third of our waste going to landfill is perfectly compostable organics,” Ikard said. “We have a huge opportunity to divert food from landfill.”

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How the Country Music Hall of Fame is reducing food waste

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The Tennessean | Lizzy Alfs

Popular Nashville tourist attraction hopes to reduce its carbon footprint by donating food, composting and growing vegetables

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum has fed nearly 8,000 hungry people with excess food donated from its kitchens since late December, said Karl Ebert, the museum’s associate director of operations.

The popular tourist and event attraction in downtown Nashville has ramped up its food waste initiative by giving its leftover food to the Nashville Rescue Mission and by starting a composting program.

Since Feb. 22, museum officials estimate, the kitchen staff has composted 10,324 pounds of material.

“We are such a big organization and we produce so much food — we do over 400 catered events annually — and the food that’s left over was often ending up in the trash,” Ebert said. “Adding an extra step to reduce what goes into the trash and putting it to something that could be a better use, like composting, which gets put back into the community and reduces our carbon footprint, just makes the most sense.”

The museum is one of more than 50 Nashville restaurants and venues participating in Mayor Megan Barry’s first-of-its-kind Food Saver Challenge, which runs through May. Participants range from Opry Entertainment and the Hilton Garden Inn to Strategic Hospitality and Dozen Bakery.

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Composting In Music City

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BioCycle | Dan Emerson

A Nashville, Tennessee area entrepreneur gradually grows the Compost Company, servicing more food scraps generators and expanding end product markets.

In 2011, Edward Wansing launched the Compost Company in Ashland City, Tennessee, the first organics recycler in the mid-state region around Nashville. Wansing, who grew up on a farm and pursued a career in sustainable architecture, saw a need for recycling of organic waste in the growing Nashville area. “Before I started the company, I spent a number of months talking to area waste haulers and recyclers, to gauge local interest,” he explains.

Wansing also contacted several area municipalities, tree trimmers and line clearing contractors to line up sources of carbon in the form of tree and yard trimmings. Today, Compost Company has contracts to receive wood waste from the city of Clarksville, one major contractor (ABC Tree) and a number of smaller firms. The Compost Company also had been receiving mostly preconsumer produce from a local Walmart and Sam’s Club. Over time, however, preconsumer produce waste has become less available as a composting ingredient, with more of it being used for animal feed by local farmers.

“We have been diversifying our feedstocks by implementing our own hauling service and expanding into new areas,” Wansing notes. “We are becoming more independent of the larger waste haulers, to better control our supply of incoming feedstock.” The Compost Company found interest among several large generators, including the Music City Center convention facility (which generated an estimated 8 tons of organic waste last year, according to the Center’s annual report), along with several Nashville office buildings and food processors. It also services hotels and conference centers that host events producing large amounts of postconsumer food and paper packaging and serving waste, as well as compostable bioplastic serviceware.

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Startup finds opportunity in recycling chicken dinners

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Nashville Business Journal | E.J. Boyer

Local entrepreneurs Edward Wansing and Clay Ezell are betting on the “garbage revolution” coming to Nashville. And they’ve landed a pretty big first client: Music City Center.

Their startup venture, The Compost Co., raised $165,000 in May to fund equipment upgrades at their 37-acre Ashland City composting site. The duo also signed a deal to compost the chicken dinners at the new convention center. In fiscal year 2014, the convention center served 786 banquet dinners and generated an estimated 8 tons of compostable waste, according to its annual report.

Until recently, composting in the U.S. has largely been led on the grassroots level, but now, municipalities and large, private industry waste producers like sporting arenas and grocery stores are seeing the benefits.

New York City announced plans this week to expand its residential composting program to an additional 33,000 houses, part of Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s plan to have all NYC residents composting by 2018. New York is one of a handful of large American cities that has passed regulations in recent years requiring residents to compost, the process that recycles organic waste (think, food scraps) into a nutrient-rich soil. In Seattle, starting this year, if you don’t compost, you get fined.

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Music City Center, Compost Company make city greener

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The Tennessean | Reade Pickert

Nashville’s Music City Center has signed a contract with The Compost Company to increase its focus on sustainability.

Located in Ashland City, The Compost Company converts organic waste, such as paper products, food and yard waste, into sustainable products like compost and mulch. Founded in 2011, The Compost Company processes more than 200 tons of waste per month. Its clients already include Caterpillar Financial Services Corp., and the city of Clarksville.

The Music City Center has pushed sustainability with a 360,000-gallon rainwater collection system, a four-acre green roof and 845 solar panels.

Adding the partnership with The Compost Company follows the Music City Center’s effort to minimize its carbon footprint, center officials said. The Compost Company will start handling Music City Center waste in July.

“We’re kind of the ‘It’ city right now, but how do we keep that and grow,” Music City Center Sustainability Coordinator Amanda Robinson said. “I think being sustainable is a huge part of that.”

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