Triangle’s CompostNow fights waste

Durham residents Nick and Ashley Swanson work to reduce their carbon footprint as Compost Now customers. (Staff photo by Jennifer Maxwell)


Durham locals are turning to an environmentally friendly alternative to dumping garbage. Local service CompostNow has provided a new green aid in reducing the Bull City’s waste.

CompostNow aims to fight the Triangle’s landfill issue by turning residents’ food scraps into soil. Meat, dairy, pizza boxes and other materials can be given to CompostNow. The company can help its customers reduce their waste stream by 60 percent. Many can request the soil for personal use or donate it to a local community garden. Founded in 2011, by Raleigh graphic designer Matthew Rosetter, CompostNow has diverted 1.8 million pounds of waste.

“For him, CompostNow was a creation of wanting composting to be easy, convenient, and fun,” said Kat Nigro, CompostNow’s marketing and engagement head.

As a past apartment tenant, Rosetter saw the need for residents to limit waste through composting. Rosetter noticed the city’s  lack of pickup sites for preserving the environment. By 2012, Rosetter was joined by co-founders Justin Senkbeil and Dominique Bischoff. The Raleigh-based company began to service households, multi-family communities, commercial offices, and food service industries.

In 2013, Durham gained its own compost company called Tilthy Rich Compost. Founder Chris Russo provided a biking-based trash pickup for numerous households and businesses. Russo tapped Nigro to handle TRC’s everyday operations as General Manager.

However, the Durham company made a significant shift when CompostNow acquired them last year. This later resulted in a merger between the two  companies.

“There was no need for us to compete, because we’d be more successful if we joined forces, resources, time, passion and people,” said Nigro.

CompostNow provides two monthly plans where customers can sign up for a two-week trial. Once a plan is chosen, the company sends a bucket to dispose scraps.  Trash collectors will pick up the bucket once week and replace with a new one. All of the compostable materials are hauled for processing at family-run facility Brooks Contractor in Goldston.

Compost Now has impacted not only the environment but  the Durham community. Jennifer Maxwell, an NCCU student and mother of two,  used to self-compost, but a busy schedule stopped this. “I didn’t think that composting would fit into our schedule, but CompostNow makes it hassle free. So, they drop it off every week and they pick it, and all we have to do is to throw it into a (pickup) van, ” said Maxwell. (Full disclosure: Maxwell is an NCCU student journalist writing and photographing for the Durham VOICE.) 

The company has impacted the Triangle’s community gardens forming its own initiative called Garden Partners. Numerous community gardens such as SEEDS, Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, and  The HUB Farm all work with CompostNow. These partnerships help promote utilizing local food resources.

Last year, the eco-friendly company earned a Durham Living Wage Project certification, another initiative for employers to pay  reasonable wages. The Bull City has seen a great deal of CompostNow’s impact on its economy.  

“Green businesses like CompostNow provide green jobs, and what we do is that we pay our employees of Durham an impressive wage,” said Nigro.

Many satisfied customers have often gained more membership for Compost Now. The Triangle’s local commercial offices and  schools have also switched to the eco-friendly service. Earned members such as Raleigh-based internet company RedHat and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have begun composting.

The company has tapped into the Triangle’s thriving food industries. Restaurants and cafes can  launch their composting set-up within a week, and are provided with single-use compostable tableware. Raleigh-based health cafe chain’s Happy + Hale Durham location has teamed with CompostNow to further its farm to table mission.  

“People are demanding that restaurants and offices manage their waste better,” said Nigro.

The East Durham Bake Shop has also seen the advantage of CompostNow.

“We can get compost from them based on how much we’ve given to them in terms of compostable stuff. We’ve been trying to figure out visually long term, what we do with the compost we’ve sort of accumulated,” said East Durham Bake Shop c0-founder Ben Fillippo.

Since its 2011 debut, CompostNow has grown substantially from 50 members to now 4,000.