This young entrepreneur will collect your food waste and turn it into compost
The Kaimuki Compost Collective is the creation of University of Hawaiʻi chemistry graduate Nate Hogsten. He turned his passion for problem-solving into a business venture that helps the community dispose of food waste.
The Conversation spoke with Hogsten about selling the subscription plan to local businesses and residents. For a monthly fee, the business will pick up its 5-gallon bucket of food waste and drop off a clean one.
"If I'm taking my waste and my friend's waste, that's fine, and I can make do and we're all happy with it. If it's gonna make a difference then it needs to be big, and if it's gonna be big, then we got to fund it," Hogsten said.
While simple home composts are common, Hogsten said the amount of waste and the maintenance required for hot composting is a barrier for people.
"The amount of waste to start, you need a cubic foot basically of space. I'm not gonna say it's impossible to hot compost on your own, but you'd have to go out and source material because you wouldn't be making enough at home to do it," he told HPR.
"You layer certain materials, so food waste, and brown materials such as mulch, leaves, stuff like that, and it has to be in a certain ratio. You water it, and you turn it or keep it aerated, and the microorganisms in the pile and the fungus, break it down through heat and through eating it. And it turns into compost, which is basically like brown dirt," Hogsten said. The compost is delivered to local farmers and gardeners.
Similar businesses have already popped up on the continent, and in Australia and New Zealand, he said.
"I didn't create the business model. I kind of ran into it. I was concerned, I was like who's gonna pay for this? Because you can just throw it in the trash, it's free," he said. "People want it and everyone who uses the service absolutely loves it. The market, it's people who have expendable income. So it's younger professionals, I'd say between 25 to 50, actually, mostly women."
This interview aired on The Conversation on May 2, 2023. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1. This story was adapted for the web by Sophia McCullough.