Key City Compost

July 9, 2024 | Business+Finance, Collection, Compostable Packaging, Composting, Facilities, Food Waste

Maryland Food Scrap Recyclers Join Forces

Top: Key City Compost’s facility is permitted to accept 20,000 tons/year of source separated organics. Photo courtesy Key City Compost

In early July, Compost Crew, based in Rockville, Maryland, announced it had combined forces with Key City Compost, based in Frederick, Maryland, “a like-minded company” that Compost Crew has been collaborating with for several years.  “We acquired Key City and merged our companies,” explains Ben Parry, CEO of Compost Crew. “Phil Westcott, founder of Key City Compost, is joining our leadership team and will have a stake in the company.” Westcott started Key City Compost in 2017, and operates Utica Bridge Farms, a composting facility in Frederick that is permitted to take 20,000 tons/year of source separated organics. Compost Crew has established what it has branded as Compost Outposts®, small-scale decentralized food scrap composting systems. Installations are at several urban and rural farms, along with other municipal sites, such as a transfer station in northern Virginia. The Outposts help reduce the distance collection trucks have to travel to unload the food scraps.

Combined, the two companies service over 21,000 residential customers and more than 600 commercial accounts. Photo courtesy of Key City Compost

Key City, like Compost Crew, collects residential and commercial food scraps, along with soiled paper and certified compostable food-contact packaging. The two companies have partnered together on more than one occasion in the past to service commercial customers with locations that span both of their service territories. Combined, they have over 21,000 residential customers and over 600 commercial accounts and recycle close to 15,000 tons/year of food scraps. Where the two companies overlap, especially in central Montgomery County (MD), they will take advantage of the opportunity to make the routes more efficient. In addition, Key City has built distribution capability for compostable products from partner companies like Eco-Products, Vegware, World Centric, and EcoSafe Zero Waste. “Phil will lead our combined efforts to make a wide variety of compostable food packaging, utensils, cups and more available to our customers and others throughout the District of Columbia-Maryland-Virginia (DMV) region,” says Parry.

Compost Crew introduced its Farm Feast compost, sold in bulk and bags, in December 2023. Photo courtesy of Compost Crew

The partnership enables the further development of the Utica Bridge Farm composting facility. “We permitted the 30-acre parcel of land at the site but have only been operating on a couple thousand square feet, processing about 800 tons/year of food scraps,” explains Westcott. “We use windrows but have always intended to build out more of the acreage and shift to using aerated static pile composting. We were looking for capital or a partner to assist with the expansion and started talking with Ben about opportunities. Compost Crew will invest in fully developing the site to its permitted size, allowing for significantly more food scraps to be processed into high quality finished compost.” The companies have built similar compost markets, including farmers, landscapers, market gardeners and residents. Both companies have service contracts with municipalities in the DMV to provide food scraps collection. Westcott and Parry plan to procure more municipal service contracts. “We’ve found that municipalities are not scaling residential food scraps collection programs because of concerns about the lack of composting infrastructure,” says Parry. “We’ll continue building capacity, both at the site in Frederick and additional Compost Outposts. Phil and I are both excited to work together to keep more food scraps out of the landfill and make more compost.”

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