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Raleigh compost company wins $5,000 green award

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CompostNow, a Raleigh company with a mission to turn food scraps into compost, has won a People & Planet Award from Green America. The award comes with a $5,000 cash prize.

The business was started by Matt Rostetter in 2010 to help people who wanted to sustainably dispose of kitchen scraps without dealing with maggots.

For a $25 monthly fee, CompostNow provides a bin for food scraps, takes it away each week and leaves a new bin. You also get a refrigerator magnet telling you what can and can't be composted. Members earn compost soil as well.

The company partners with Brooks Contractor in Goldston to turn the scraps into rich soil.

After starting small — Rostetter was a one-man show, picking up scraps around Raleigh and Cary — he has been joined by a CEO and a chief technical officer. The company has also extended its reach to clusters of homes in Durham, Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Apex.

Rostetter said they are close to expanding into Asheville.

"We have a contractor (for the composting) and we've been running a campaign to raise awareness," he said. "We need 300 people to sign up to make it worthwhile and we're almost there."

Rostetter is still the main driver, picking up scraps four out of five days. He said the most immediate thing they'll do with the prize money is hire another driver.

As for long-term, Rostetter said the hope is generate enough interest to be able to sell franchises in other states.

Since starting in 2010, the company has helped divert more than 58,000 pounds from landfills.

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About the blogger

Mary Cornatzer has worked at The News & Observer for more than 25 years, covering the local music industry, state movie industry and travel. She has been the paper's Business editor since 2000. Contact Mary at 919-829-4755 or e-mail her.