Atlas Organics cofounders and South Carolinians Gary Nihart and Joseph McMillin both became involved with food waste recycling while at college. Nilhart attended Clemson University, where he developed the food waste composting program for Clemson Facilities, which had just gotten the second research permit for food waste recycling granted in South Carolina. The multidisciplinary program, which started with an in-vessel system, bobcat and a tractor, involved students from marketing, civil science, construction, and business and won Outstanding Organics program in 2013 from the Carolina Recycling Association.
Meanwhile, for his entrepreneurial scholarship program at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, McMillin designed a recycling business to which he had to commit 20 hours per week. "Talking to some recycling customers, we realized food waste was a big part of their waste stream that wasn't being addressed," says McMillin. "So we started researching, but there weren't any permitted [composting] facilities in South Carolina other than at the Charleston County landfill at Bees Ferry. Clemson was the second.