In 1992, Patrick Geraty founded St. Louis Composting. Patrick was in the landscaping industry and was looking for a way to diversify his business. “I was also wondering what to do with all this yard waste,” he tells me. His solution was to recycle the dead plant matter into mulch and compost, which can then be used to enrich topsoil.
As his business grew, he began taking on local governments as clients. Many public spaces produce plant waste that needs to be disposed of, and cities also need mulch to cover ground in public parks.
Privatization can be controversial, but there are some instances where everyone agrees privatization is a smart move. Municipal mulching services seem to be one such case.
In 2010, the city of St. Louis contracted out its green waste disposal to St. Louis Composting. The move saved the city an estimated quarter-million dollars annually.
“Privatization just made sense,” said Greg Hayes, St. Louis’s forestry commissioner. “Antiquated equipment made our operation inefficient. It saved the city from having to invest a significant sum in new specialized machinery. St. Louis Composting is a well-capitalized, accomplished specialist that knows the business inside and out.”
This seems to be a common story. As a city’s older machinery needs to be replaced, it makes sense to contract out with a specialist like St. Louis Composting rather than burdening a city with the purchase of expensive new machinery.
Patrick estimates that his company now has contracts with around 20 to 25 cities in the eastern half of Missouri. His company even handles much of the animal bedding for the St. Louis Zoo.
I asked Patrick about the environmental aspect of his business and he tells me that soil quality has decreased in the last 30 to 40 years. Recycling organic matter back into the topsoil helps fix this problem. “You feel good about what you do” he said.