We had the good fortune of connecting with Naomi Wentworth and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Naomi, how did you come up with the idea for your business?
I care deeply for our planet and have for as long as I can remember. There is something so magical about a pristine river, a wild blackberry bush, or a tree that has been living for thousands of years – and I have this unshakable need to protect it. This led me down a road to becoming an environmental consultant. I have worked on local government sustainability and climate action plans both calculating where all of our emissions come from in a certain jurisdiction as well as how to mitigate them. Intellectually it was interesting, but there was something really daunting about bringing the work back to these governments only to inform them that we needed to undertake massive reeducation programs to restructure our economy and basic societal needs including how we transport ourselves, how we get our energy, how we take care of our waste. Many of these solutions were actually out of their jurisdictional control – either a private party needed to come in and fund the programs or regional entities needed to come together to work for decades to build a systems that worked for a full region. This challenge exists for every category except for our waste. In the landfill, the only thing that emits methane emissions is our organic waste rotting in the anaerobic environment. So technically, we can reduce all of our methane emissions from landfill by composting efficiently and locally – and do a lot of good for the environment outside of just methane emissions, immediately and (relatively) simply. I have an engineering and local government background, so I knew I could really make an impact in this sector. The State of California has passed a law requiring all commercial organic waste to be recycled in some way. This motivated me to hit the ground running to make sure local governments had a proven program that could be put in place to compost locally, efficiently, and make the highest and best soil amendment products from the previous waste stream. This needed to be done, because the alternate option was typically to have our franchise hauler’s build anaerobic digestion facilities which create methane and sludge to power their waste hauling vehicles for a high hauling price – and I wanted there to be a more environmentally conscious program available for our communities.
What should our readers know about your business?
The Compost Group is creating a decentralized composting network for local governments and commercial food waste. We design and build mini-composting facilities that can be built and scaled within a matter of months. Our initial pilot facility is able to divert 2.4 million pounds of food waste per year – and that is our scaled-down version. We collect food scraps from restaurants and large-scale organic waste producers and compost that into a super healthy soil product at our local mini-compost facility. We are working to show local governments in San Diego County right now that we are viable solution for commercial food scrap composting, as our process does not require a lot of land space or create neighbor complaints. We reduce the composting process from months to days and use proprietary blend of microorganisms to ensure the breakdown is done in a healthy way that does not produce unpleasant odors. We believe deeply in reviving our soil, and monitor the biology of our compost closely, so when we sell it, we know it will absolutely transform your garden or farm. We started operations in January of this year catering specifically to restaurants. To say the least, 2020 has been a rollercoaster of a year to get started and viable. That being said, we have been gaining traction in the community and showing that this form of composting can be really successful!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
My “go-to” when friends come to town is a burrito at the beach for sunset! I also LOVE lobster season in its entirety. Las Olas for the lobster feast is a must do every fall, along with an early morning surf, and a fancy happy hour wine and appetizers at Solterra!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to give a big shoutout to Stella Labs – a women-focused business accelerator here in San Diego. I joined their business accelerator when I was still living in my ‘Entrepreneurial Closet’ and keeping part-time jobs to try to avoid any questions about my unconventional life direction. Their accelerator program instilled in me the confidence to fully jump in to make this business happen. Their Pitch Night also gave me the visibility and traction I needed to start ticking away at business milestones.