Scraps man revels in not-so-sweet smell of success

ckellner@newsobserver.comOctober 3, 2011 

  • Read more about how CompostNow works at CompostNow.org. Make pledges to help the startup meet its $10,000 expansion goal at Rippple.com . Contributors get a free month or two of compost collection.

— It takes a lot to gross Matt Rostetter out. Maggots do the trick.

That's unfortunate because they're swarming inside his compost bucket.

Rostetter slaps the lid back on fast. Just another Thursday in the compost business, of which Rostetter is Raleigh's current king.

"I have no illusions. I know I'm a garbage man," Rostetter said. "But I'm a different kind of garbage man."

For green-minded folks who want to sustainably dispose of their kitchen scraps without dealing with the maggots, Rostetter is your go-to guy. His newly founded CompostNow organic-waste collection business is Raleigh's new frontier in trash removal.

For a monthly fee, Rostetter provides, picks up and cleans compost buckets weekly, along with the earned amount of composted soil, if asked.

Neither the city of Raleigh nor Wake County offers composting services, though both encourage it.

"To do something on that scale is very big," said Lowell Shaw, Wake County's solid-waste facility manager. "You have to have a lot of property, a lot of equipment. There's a lot involved."

Rostetter, 31, has found ways around that. He pays a service in Goldsboro to take away each week's haul. CompostNow is a one-man operation now, just Rostetter and his black Honda Element.

It's been almost a year, and Rostetter's looking to grow. He's teamed with Raleigh-based entrepreneur-funding website Rippple.com (three p's) asking donors to help him raise $10,000. Rostetter hopes to purchase supplies and workspace needed to expand, plus a diesel truck to run on biofuel.

For now, Rostetter cruises Raleigh and Cary once a week. CompostNow stickers plaster the back windows; his back seat is stuffed with ripe, 30-gallon plastic bins.

He keeps all the windows open, but by noon, it gets pretty smelly. Says Rostetter: "You've got to pay your dues."

Rostetter is really looking forward to that truck, with a window separating him from the rotting banana peels. Until then, you can find him making his rounds, armed with organic cleaning spray, paper towels and a strong stomach.

Kellner: 919-829-4802

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