NOCO, an energy company that services central and western New York State, has diversified its portfolio over the years, including operation of a subsidiary, Buffalo River Compost in the City of Buffalo. The composting facility processes source separated fruits, vegetables and bakery waste, flowers and clippings from the botanical gardens, seaweed, wood chips, brewers grains, and bedding and manure from the hooved herbivores at the Buffalo Zoo. About 8,000 cubic yards/year of feedstocks are composted, and roughly 6,000 cy of STA-certified (Seal of Testing Assurance) compost is manufactured. A separate NOCO company, Tend, markets the compost, which is geared for direct-to-consumer lawn and garden products. The compost is also sold in bulk for use in Department of Transportation projects, pollinator habitats, landscaping and bioswales.
Recently, Tend announced that its 1-cubic-foot bags of Brian’s Best STA Approved Compost will be packaged using a lawn and garden bag containing 20% postconsumer resin (PCR). PCR is recycled plastic collected from postconsumer sources such as curbside programs and commercial recycling programs in distribution centers and retail stores. “When we began to pursue packaging options in 2022, we found limited options for sustainable packaging,” explains Bobbie Thoman, director of sustainability and innovation at Tend. “Some places around the country are starting to require minimum recycled content standards for plastic packaging such as garbage bags, but due to features such as UV protection and anti-slip that we need for our bags of compost, we weren’t able to immediately identify suppliers that used PCR in lawn and garden bags.”
After contacting several vendors and learning that PCR lawn and garden bags were not currently in production, Tend reached out directly to EFS-plastics, a mechanical recycling facility that creates customized plastic resin to help customers across North America develop cost-effective solutions for products and packaging. EFS-plastics is a joint venture of Inteplast Group, which is an affiliate of Salerno Packaging, Inc. Tend worked with Salerno Packaging over the past year on everything from thickness and durability of the product to graphic design for manufacturing the new lawn and garden bag. Buffalo River Compost’s 1-cubic-foot bags of Brian’s Best Compost will be available for sale beginning in spring 2024 at local garden centers in western New York. PCR bags can be recycled wherever lawn and garden bags are accepted, says Thoman. “The challenge is that lawn and garden bags are currently not accepted in take back programs. EFS is working on ramping up efforts to increase recyclability of these streams.”