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  • Writer's pictureDavid Paull

Expanding Compost Infrastructure in Georgia through Public-Private Partnerships

Building strong public–private relationships in Georgia has helped our team take advantage of new federal funding opportunities, and create municipal compost programs and infrastructure.

The compost industry has recently seen a surge of federal, state, and local funding for organic waste diversion programs and composting infrastructure. This funding presents exciting opportunities for communities to create impactful local initiatives that reduce waste and create compost. At CompostNow, we believe that community stakeholder collaboration is important for successfully deploying these new resources.

Our team recognizes that initiating and expanding compost programs is a complex process that demands time, effort, and cooperation from numerous stakeholders. These programs require educating stakeholders and community members on the significance of composting, guiding them on how to implement the process, and providing ongoing operational support. Over the past two years, we have focused on establishing public-private partnerships which has allowed us to leverage new funding opportunities and advance composting initiatives in Georgia. This deliberate approach to partnership-building has not only furthered our mission of rebuilding local soils, but has also offered valuable insight into successfully working with a wide range of stakeholders. 

As a result of these collaborative efforts, CompostNow received a USDA Community Food Waste Reduction Grant in 2023 in partnership with East Point Grown, Food Well Alliance, and the City of East Point to pilot a municipal compost drop-off program for the City of East Point residents. The high-quality compost created through the program will be distributed to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) farmers through the local network that Food Well Alliance supports. In its first six months, the program enrolled over 100 residents and diverted more than 7,500 pounds of food scraps from landfills. Quickly and efficiently deploying this program was made possible through the collective groundwork of our grant partners and the Atlanta Regional Commission, who have supported composting and urban agriculture advancement in the region for the past several years. 

Our involvement from the grant program's inception allowed us to guide discussions on costs, details, and timelines in alignment with our partners' goals. With over a decade of experience, our team supported this USDA grant-funded program by introducing the opportunity to the municipality, assisting with grant writing, developing program budgets and plans, presenting proposals to city councils for approval, launching and marketing programs, and providing ongoing support and reporting. We believe this hands-on approach by an experienced service provider ensured that this community compost program could be quickly launched and sufficiently supported. In the past, we have seen municipal programs fail because they do not have a composting expert involved in the planning and implementation process. When working with municipalities, it’s important to understand what steps need to be taken to implement a program and how relationships with other contractors work. In order to have an accurate program timeline and avoid surprises along the way, it is critical for all members of the program to communicate any requirements from their organization and understand what the process will look like from the beginning.

Developing strong relationships with nonprofit organizations, like Food Well Alliance, has also played a critical role in the success of our community and grant-funded efforts in Georgia. As a nonprofit they support a network of local urban farmers and, alongside the Atlanta Regional Commission, created the City Agriculture Plan program which has influenced several cities to consider or implement plans that support local food systems and the necessary components of them such as composting. Food Well Alliance has helped our team facilitate the return of finished compost to local growers, with over 1.5 million pounds of compost distributed across 40 local growers in the past two years. Their commitment to growing composting infrastructure and programming, along with their dedication to providing resources to local growers in Metro Atlanta, has significantly contributed to the success of CompostNow's mission to reduce food waste and rebuild soil health.

Composting in isolation is not a comprehensive solution. Building relationships with groups like Food Well Alliance and Atlanta Regional Commission has ensured that this vital soil amendment reaches the hands of local growers, fostering a broader ecosystem-level change that is truly impactful.

With recent announcements from the EPA regarding their food waste prevention strategy and the federal government's continued investments in programs such as the USDA Community Food Waste Reduction Grant and the forthcoming EPA Climate Pollution Reduction Grant, our team at CompostNow is committed to growing and strengthening these partnerships. Our aim is to unlock funding opportunities and expand composting initiatives across all the states we operate in, including Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Ohio.

As solutions providers with experience in hauling, processing, and developing compost infrastructure, we are positioned to contribute to the ongoing momentum in the compost industry. By sharing our knowledge and insights, we hope to replicate our work in Georgia across other regions as more funding becomes available. Together with our partners, we look forward to fostering a regenerative future where composting plays a pivotal role in reducing food waste, rebuilding local soil health, and contributing to a sustainable and resilient food system.

person putting their hand in compost
Image from City of East Point Compost Drop-off Demo Day, with photo credit to Food Well Alliance and Plot My Story


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