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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Private compost service hopes to provide much needed waste to county composter with weekly pickup

Wilmington Compost Company launched earlier this month to provide the area's first weekly curbside compost pickup service.

Riley Alber, owner of Wilmington Compost Company, drops off food waste at New Hanover County's composting facility Wednesday. (Port City Daily photo/Johanna Ferebee)
Riley Alber, owner of Wilmington Compost Company, drops off food waste at New Hanover County’s composting facility Wednesday. (Port City Daily photo/Johanna Ferebee)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — Composting in New Hanover County just got easier thanks to the Wilmington Compost Company’s weekly waste pickup service. For $25 a month, residents and businesses can have their waste collected and composted.

The first of its kind in the region, the service will provide much-needed food waste to the county’s compost machine, known as “Huckleberry.”

RELATED: As landfill grows, New Hanover County’s composting program needs food

The $369,884 machine was installed in January and opened to the public earlier this month. Huckleberry needs a steady stream of compost to function, and has been operating at a fourth of its capacity all year.

Riley Alber, owner of Wilmington Compost Company hopes his service will keep the composter churning. Since the county has no public compost pick-up service, Alber has taken the lead in providing much-needed food waste to Huckleberry.

“If we can move 50 percent of the materials making it into the landfill and produce awesome nutrient-rich compost, that’s a win-win,” he said. 

Since starting last month, Alber’s pile of food waste has grown weekly. On Wednesday, he dropped off one-third of a ton — which was much appreciated by the county.

“You’re just in time, I’m almost out of food,” New Hanover County’s Environmental Specialist Andy Mulvey told Alber during the drop-off. 


How it works

Each week, Alber’s 16-foot box truck picks up residential and commercial waste around the county. Residents are given a 5-gallon resealable container when they sign up for the service.

“You fill it up with all your food waste and compostable ware,” Alber said. “I swap it out every Wednesday and leave you a clean one.”

Alber is also working with restaurants and other commercial customers. These clients fill up food scraps into a 64-gallon container, typically lined with compostable plastic. The process is essentially the same as the residential service, just on a larger scale, he said.

Restaurants like Rx Restaurant and Bar and Manna, which helped start the movement toward composting in Wilmington, have signed on to use the service.

By taking on clients both familiar and unaccustomed to the composting process, Alber hopes to change people’s behavior around a trash bin.

“We can start to change and start to create the shift in our consciousness of what’s acceptable through our waste flow and waste streams,” he said.

For more information on Wilmington Compost Company, contact Alber at riley@wilmingtoncompostcompany.com.

Riley Alber, owner of Wilmington Compost Company, drops off food waste at New Hanover County’s composting facility Wednesday. (Port City Daily photo/Johanna Ferebee)

Send tips and comments to Johanna Ferebee Still at johanna@localdailymedia.com

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