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SBDC Success Story: Carbon Compost

Carbon Compost buckets lined up ascending on front porch steps

Louis Mennel, owner of Carbon Compost, started his composting waste collection business in August of 2021. Carbon Compost is an eco-friendly organic waste removal service, which enables communities to reduce the amount of trash sent to landfills and provides a natural decomposition method for compostable items such as kitchen scraps, yard waste and paper products. Carbon Compost aims to reduce food waste and the amount of methane gas by composting.

“I learned that when food waste is sent to a landfill, it decomposes without oxygen or sunlight and produces methane as a by product,” Mennel said. “Methane is a potent greenhouse gas estimated by climate scientists to be 20 times worse for the planet than carbon dioxide. Food waste that is composted (an oxygen-rich process that recycles nutrients from food back to earth) does not produce methane and local farmers can use the finish product to add nutrients and beneficial microorganisms to the soil.”

Mennel decided to start Carbon Compost as a way to use his background to do something beneficial for the environment and community. He was first exposed to composting growing up in California, where his community provided green waste bins alongside recycling and trash collection services. After six years of living in Pittsburgh, Louis realized that the city could benefit from access to and awareness of more eco-friendly ways of handling organic waste. Louis already understood the benefits of composting, and now he needed to determine if there was a market for this type of service in the Pittsburgh area. After doing extensive research and analysis, Louis decided that starting Carbon Compost was the right thing to do in our local communities.

However, Mennel experienced a few obstacles along the way. From a production standpoint, Mennel has found it difficult to find the best type of lid for the composting containers.

“Operationally, I’ve struggled to find a lid that seals tightly but is also easy to remove,” Mennel said.

Louis has also struggled with informing the public about the benefits of composting. A main priority for Mennel is finding new and unique ways to shift the narrative of how people view food waste. Instead of simply throwing out the food waste, Mennel wants people to see it as a valuable resource.

Mennel had heard of Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and decided to reach out to the Pitt SBDC for guidance on marketing and sales in order to increase awareness of his business. In addition to providing resources and referrals, the Pitt SBDC also performed a Search Engine Optimization Analysis on the business website, and provide tips and guidance on how to bring more traffic to the site. The goal was to help increase sales and marketing by means of website enhancement. Mennel is grateful for the improvements after incorporating the SBDC’s suggestions.

“I’ve been slowly implementing their suggestions and already am noticing the improvements. I am grateful for the expertise and resources the SBDC has shared with me,” Mennel said.

After one full year into the business, Louis expanded his services to cover multiple neighborhoods within the Pittsburgh area and provide services to more than 40 clients. Mennel’s long-term goal is to expand his client base beyond just the Pittsburgh area. The Pitt SBDC is excited to assist with business development and looks forward to seeing Carbon Compost grow.