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With her MBA in hand, Jessica Saturley-Hall knew she wanted to start her own business, and she got hooked on the concept of compost. She knew that food scraps produce significantly more methane, a greenhouse gas, when tossed in a landfill, rather than breaking down on their own. So she wondered, what if you could somehow reward people for separating their food waste from their trash?
At first, she thought about the idea of somehow paying people for their compost. She ran a host of financial models, looked at it every which way, but couldn’t come up with a solution.
Then, she decided to take a step back, asking if people were even interested in composting to begin with. If so, she thought, maybe the reward didn’t need to be so high.
She looked at surveys nationally, and did some locally in western New Hampshire and neighboring Vermont. She found that about 65 percent of people were willing to compost if it wasn’t too hard and didn’t cost them more than they’re currently paying to get rid of their waste. That figure struck her as high. Sixty-five percent of people, she thought, could be a customer base.
While cities across the country are launching municipal composting programs, offering to pick up food scraps alongside standard trash and recycling, the same programs don’t exist in many rural and suburban areas. But, as Saturley-Hall and others are finding, that doesn’t mean there isn’t demand.