John Sweet, the founder and former owner of Niedlov's Breadworks in downtown Chattanooga, believes in composting. For about a decade, at no charge, he picked up kitchen scraps and other organic waste from such places as Girls Preparatory School and BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee's office downtown.
"I've been composting just on my own working with a few clients — although I've never gotten paid for it — over the past 10 years," Sweet said. "I just do it in my pickup truck." Composting is about to get professional in the city, since Sweet and other Chattanoogans — including the Chattanooga-based Footprint Foundation, an offshoot of the Lyndhurst Foundation — helped bring a South Carolina venture capital-backed company, Atlas Organics, here to do commercial composting.
Starting Friday, Atlas Organics will launch its Compost House program in Chattanooga, which offers doorstep collection of organic waste. For $24 a month, participants will receive two 5-gallon collection pails with a compostable liner to fill up weekly with vegetable scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds and other compostable waste. Compost House will collect the pails from participants' homes and return 10 gallons of finished compost each month. "This kind of takes the hassle out of composting," said Joseph McMillin, the chief executive officer of Atlas Organics, which he helped found in Spartanburg S.C., and later expand to Greenville, S.C.