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This Cleveland business wants your food scraps

Posted at 5:11 PM, Feb 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-01 19:44:29-05

It's the small business with big plans for your garbage and it could soon change what you throw in the trash.

It’s an example of how Cleveland's love of cuisine is evolving well beyond what's on your plate.

Chances are you pay close attention to where your food is coming from, but do you have the same concern about where it goes?

Instead of ending up in a landfill, a couple of guys in Cleveland want to add your fresh food scraps to growing compost piles near the city’s St. Clair-Superior neighborhood.

Inside you’ll find things like eggshells, orange rinds and coffee grounds – all decomposing.

It’s collected from 75 different cafes, coffee houses and businesses across Cleveland.

"We're trying to demystify what compost is," said Michael Robinson, Rust Belt Riders co-founder.

Each month, Rust Belt Riders rounds up 100,000 lbs. of commercial food waste.

"Rather than having the city haul the food waste out to a landfill, it can stay right here in the community and create value," said Rust Belt Riders' other co-founder Daniel Brown.

The rapidly expanding business is now shifting its focus.

"We know that a lot of the residents in the city want to be able to compost their food scraps," said Robinson.

Right now, plans are in the works to give the entire community a chance to transform their waste.

"It should be no different than you taking out your trash," said Robinson.

It’s trash that will be turned into nutrients to help grow new locally produced food.

“It's some of the most biologically-rich compost that you can find on the market right now," said Robinson.

What started out with a couple of buddies, a bicycle and a trailer is now a five-man operation on four wheels.

"The interest that we've seen in our services and the support we've had from the community has totally exceeded our expectations," said Brown.

The plan is to give homeowners and renters a three-gallon container that would be picked up once a week for about $20.

"There's a tremendous amount of interest in Lakewood, in Cleveland Heights, in Shaker Heights," said Brown.

The food scraps would then be dropped off at Rust Belt's processing center just east of downtown Cleveland.

So far, Rust Belt Riders have diverted 500,000 lbs. of food waste away from local landfills.

In addition to rolling out residential service, the small business plans to start selling the nutrient-packed compost they produce.