For Immediate Release: March 22, 2023
Media Contact: Reggie Rucker
And the Survey Says… Community Composting is a Rapidly Growing Sector in the Recycling Industry
The sector could create nearly as many new jobs as currently exists in the coal mining industry, according to the survey findings.
[WASHINGTON, DC] – Community composting operations — those that keep the composting process, product, and benefits local — have more than doubled since 2016 in the new report released today by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR). A Growing Movement: 2022 Community Composter Census surveyed composters from across the country to identify big trends and unmet needs in the sector. Results show remarkable job creation potential and benefits to a broader community base, including traditionally marginalized populations. The Census report concludes that policymakers should take notice of these wide-ranging benefits and bring an end to policies that privilege industrial operations over community-centric solutions.
Policies to promote community composting would be exponentially impactful because of the number of new entries to the space. 90% of operations surveyed started in 2010 or later, creating an environment ripe for innovation and investment as it seeks to identify the best methods to scale within each of the communities they serve. And one consistent outcome of backing these operations to scale — local jobs.
The report authors calculate that if just half of the food scraps flowing to landfills and incinerators were diverted to community composters, over 50,000 new jobs could be created locally where these composters operate. In comparison, the coal mining industry, which is a frequent focus of policymakers at every level in the U.S., employs around 59,000 people.
Furthermore, the Census report demonstrates that community composting operations on average employ a significantly higher percentage of women and members of the LGBTQ+ community than the commercial solid waste industry — by nearly a 4:1 margin. And because these composters serve rural communities, urban communities, and a relatively high percentage of people of color and Hispanic/Latino people, the sector has greater potential to mitigate the environmental burdens that disproportionately affect these same populations.
“Community composters know firsthand the economic, environmental, and social benefits they bring to their communities. They see it daily, in every schoolchild wowed by the steam coming off a compost pile and every trash can no longer overflowing with rotting food scraps. But it can be difficult to translate that impact without data, which is particularly crucial for this distinct and often under-represented sector,” says Clarissa Libertelli, ILSR’s Community Composter Coalition Coordinator and the report’s lead author. “This Census is a step towards ensuring community composting is recognized as a key player in the larger composting industry and an absolutely vital component of the solution to our food waste problem.”
“Now is the time for massive investment in localized regenerative green enterprises and programs that build equitable and healthy communities,” says Brenda Platt, Director of ILSR’s Composting for Community initiative and a co-author of the report. “Community composting is poised to rapidly grow and to do so faster and cheaper than larger industrial sites, while meeting many pressing needs of our time, from environmental justice and climate protection to food insecurity. But it won’t take root unless it is supported by those holding the money and policymaking power.”
View and download the report at ILSR.org. The use of available graphics is encouraged.
The Institute for Local Self-Reliance has a vision of thriving, equitable communities. We are a national research and advocacy organization that partners with allies across the country to build an American economy driven by local priorities and accountable to people and the planet. The Composting for Community initiative is focused on creating local jobs, enhancing local soils, protecting the climate, and reducing waste.