Companies Team Up to Turn Waste to Compost
Recycling garbage provides business opportunity
ANCHORAGE - Perhaps you’ve heard the expression “turning trash into cash?” It’s a way to recycle what most of us think of as garbage into a usable new product. Now two local companies are teaming up to do just that.
Five days a week workers with a subsidiary of Alaska Waste, the company that hauls the most garbage in Anchorage, collect rotten, unsold fruit and veggies from local grocery stores. The too-ripe produce is then mixed with another product people are happy to dispose of: horse manure. Add in a load of wood chips and you have the basic building blocks for compost.
“Carbon is in the wood chips and nitrogen is in the produce,“ explains Alaska Waste’s Jemal Krokos. “The manure acts as a binder.” With the right amount of moisture and heat, Krokos says the mixture can be turned into compost.
The raw material for the compost recipe is then fed into a huge tank called an in-vessel composter. Alaska Waste has the only one in the state. Their partner company, Green Earth Land Works, holds a patent on the microbial mixture that is sprayed onto the raw ingredients to help hasten decomposition.
It takes the composter just one week to spit out a finished product that would take Mother Nature three months to do on her own. And because the vessel is located indoors, production can continue year round. The compost is uniform, full of nutrients and doesn’t smell. But there are other advantages, according to Green Earth’s Christina Eneix, including diverting thousands of pounds of waste from the landfill.
“We are creating so much waste with the horse manure, with the food that we throw away and we aren't doing anything with it,” says Eneix. “We need to.”
Eneix sells the compost as a chemical-free fertilizer at her retail nursery. And more recently the company has been awarded several contracts with the Department of Transportation to package the compost into sausage-like socks. The compost socks are used to help control run off and sediments on state construction projects. The socks decompose naturally once the job is done.
Eneix says it’s a good example of using waste so that it doesn’t go to waste, and turning a profit besides. Alaska Waste says it hopes to eventually offer its regular customers a way to do more composting and is looking into how to provide that service in the future.