Starting a Composting Businesss

starting a composting business
Compost is used as fertilizer and soil amendment in organic farming. Compost helps put the necessary nutrients back in the soil to help your plants to grow. Many organic farmers or gardeners may not have the time to make the compost them-self so this is where your business can come in.

When starting a composting business there are several ways to compost. There is the most familiar way with grass clippings and fallen leaves. For composting with food scraps, there is vermicomposting – composting with worms. Starting a composting business is one of the best ways to help the environment, reduce the landfill, and contribute to the better gardening in your locale. It is best to start it out as a side business, because it takes six months or more to complete the composting process.

Job duties

When starting a composting business first you will have to decide how you will gather the composting material and what type of composting you will do. An area on your land will need to be set up with the proper equipment. You will need sufficient space to keep your rotting pile while it decomposes for at least 6 to 12 months. After that time you need to ensure there are no microbes in your compost (you can do this by using a microscope). You will need to come up with a marketing plan, and a plan for collecting the compost materials. You will also need to carry out the usual duties of starting a business, such as writing a business plan and keeping books. Be sure to plan out all aspects of your business such as how much compost you will be able to produce and sell.

Where you will be working

An area where there are community gardens, garden clubs or environmental clubs may be promising neighborhood. Depending on the scale of your business you can decide to sell your compost locally or package it and ship it to customers nationwide. However you should be aware that shipping can be expensive if you don’t work with the right carriers. It is important that you learn about local rules and regulations that you must follow when operating a composting business. For example you may want to ask how far from your neighbors must the compost be located.

Basic costs

When starting a composting business your costs will depend on the size of your business and how you plan to transport or deliver your finished product. If you will be selling the compost locally you may need a vehicle for hauling and transporting the compost. If you are bagging the compost you will need the bagging equipment. Basic garden tools will be needed, such as a couple different shovels, a wheel-barrel, and a garden or pitch fork. You will also need the materials for making the composting bins. Other materials include a soil test kit, burlap sacks, a microscope and wet mount slides. You should develop a small library of books on the various aspects of composting. There is also the cost of worms if you are going to do worm composting.

How to start a composting business tips

  • Use easy packaging – burlap bagging is a good way to go, and returned bags can be used for strip mulching.
  • You could graduate to worm composting – worms are quite dutiful workers when it comes to making compost. They can even turn kitchen scraps into rich compost. Red wigglers are the best worms for composting. Worm composting can also be done inside with a box. The box should have some sort of wet bedding such as shredded newspapers or shredded leaves. You will need about 1,000 worms (1 pound) to start a worm box.
  • Add coffee grounds to your composting mix – the worms love it and it helps enrich the compost. Coffee grounds and wood chips also makes a great composting combination. You can find used coffee grounds from your local coffee shops who usually throw it away.
  • Check for bad micro-organisms – you will need to be well versed in what the micro environment should look like for good compost.
  • Promote your business – give talks and demonstrations at gardening clubs, environmental organizations, and any natural-themed fair. You can decide to get compost business cards.
  • Seek advice- It is highly recommended that you seek advice from someone experienced in commercial composting. They probably have learned a lot through their experience in the composting business and this information can be very helpful to you.
  • Don’t put these foods in your compost!- Avoid putting meat, fish, dairy products, oil and grease in your compost. Not only do these foods break down very slowly, they can also attract rodents and smell very bad.
  • Check Local Regulations- Be sure to check into the local regulations surrounding composting in your region. There may be a limit on how much compost you can produce on your property. It is important that you are aware of these regulations.
  • Develop a niche- If you see that there is good amount of demand for for a certain niche in composting such as organic composting , take advantage of it and consider focusing on that niche.

Not sure about Starting a Composting Business? See a list of small business ideas

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Resources


Small Business Development Center- consult with experts

SCOREs - find a SCORES chapter near you to speak with a business consultant.

Small Business Administration- provides information for starting a small business.