Ames, Iowa startup diverts food waste to compost with at-home pickup

Ames, Iowa startup diverts food waste to compost with at-home pickup

Carissa Moyna has earned the nickname Compost Queen for her passion for turning food and organic waste into a material to create healthier soil. Now she and her business partner Andrew Frank have turned their enthusiasm for compost into a business.

Core Living Compost is a recent startup, launched June 1. The food waste pickup service covers all of Ames and helps divert food refuse from the stream of garbage handled at the Ames Resource Recovery Plant.

The business was co-founded by Moyna, a recent Iowa State grad with an MBA and civil engineering degree, and Frank, a computer engineering student at Iowa State who shares Moyna’s enthusiasm for compost.

Core Living Compost co-founders Carissa Moyna picks up a food waste container from an Ames customer's front door and replaces it with a clean container.

Customers can sign up for weekly or biweekly pickup of their food and organic waste, at a cost of $35 or $25 per month, respectively. Then they receive a green 4-gallon container with a lid and a compostable liner to store their food waste until pick-up day, when Moyna and Frank pick it up and replace it with an empty, clean container.

“We’ll pick them up from people’s doorsteps and bring them to the Food Waste Diversion Program that’s run by the Resource Recovery Center, and then it gets diverted to a compost facility in Eddyville,” Frank said. “Our goal is to make access to composting more convenient for people.”

Part of the value Core Living Compost offers, Moyna said, is that they clean the buckets, so customers have a fresh, sanitized container each week or biweekly, depending on their account.

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The lids of Core Living Compost's food waste buckets have lists of the items accepted and not accepted.

Core Living Compost handles some of the yucky tasks of composting

It’s not a glamorous process. There are flies at the dumpster and some not-so-pleasant odors there and in the buckets.

“It takes a special someone to want to clean these buckets that have food waste that’s been stored in there for a week or two weeks,” Moyna said with a laugh.

The compostable liners help keep the containers clean-ish, but true to their name, they start breaking down a little before they make it to the dumpster.

Core Living Compost is collaborating with the city of Ames as the municipality tries to keep organic material out of the system.

Core Living Compost co-founders Andrew Frank and Carissa Moyna weigh the containers of food waste they collected Monday morning before disposing of the compostable material in Ames' Resource Recovery Plant's food waste receptacle.

“The city has had this food waste diversion program, which is now free for people to participate in,” Moyna said.

It’s a free program, but not everyone wants to put their old food in their car and haul it to the receptacle full of other biodegrading food – and the flies that go with it.

Her business with Frank helps make it more convenient for people to participate in food waste diversion.