Composting is catching on in the DC area

WASHINGTON — There’s an odd little trash truck you might see in the D.C. Metro area. It’s yellow and the name on the side is “Fat Worm.”

It belongs to a composting company.

The Fat Worm Compost company pays Prince George’s County a "tipping" fee to dump at the county facility compostable materials collected from area clients. The county then turns the material into a soil-enhancing product popular with landscapers and gardeners.
Shown at the Prince George’s County Organics Composting Facility in Upper Marlboro is the final product of composting food scraps, leaves and lawn clippings. Leafgro GOLD, is a nutrient rich soil enhancer similar to humus that’s sold commercially in bulk by Prince George’s County.

“It’s truly an underground movement that’s becoming more and more mainstream,” Adam Ortiz, Director, Prince George’s County Department of the Environment, said of composting. “It is super interesting actually and people love it.”

From Arlington County in Virginia, to the District of Columbia and Takoma Park in Maryland, area municipalities support composting efforts.

Ortiz said more than 30 percent of what typically ends up in landfills is food, but Prince George’s County is doing its part to change that.

“We’re collecting food scraps from just about every university in the Metropolitan region, a number of businesses including Whole Foods and other grocery stores and also a number of communities,” Ortiz said.

“We compost it, through a pretty cool system, and turn it into a material that we then in turn sell to landscapers and homeowners.”

Fat Worm Compost is a for-profit company that supplies about 80 tons of food waste a month to Prince George’s County.

“We’re just trash haulers basically, but the difference is we only pick up compostable waste — mainly food,” said Fat Worm co-owner Adrienne Edmands.

Fat Worm clients include restaurants, schools, hotels, office buildings, one condo building, area Sweet Green locations and the Smithsonian Institution.

“All the [Smithsonian] museums that compost, compost with us,” Edmands said.

Edmands is pleased to be able to make a living doing something she believes in. “And, also do what we can to contribute to the betterment of the environment,” Edmands said. “It’s win-win. I love it.”

Gigi Barnett

Gigi Barnett is an anchor at WTOP. She has worked in the media for more than 20 years. Before joining WTOP, she was an anchor at WJZ-TV in Baltimore, KXAN-TV in Austin, Texas, and a staff reporter at The Miami Herald. She’s a Navy wife and mom of three.

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