Q&A With Borrower Atlas Organics

We checked in with borrower Atlas Organics recently to see how business is going and learn about their school outreach efforts. Atlas Organics is a community business based in Greenville, SC that borrowed capital to fund their expansion in 2016. You can read more about their compost business model in our annual report.

  1. What’s new at Atlas Organics? It seems like you’ve expanded your community education program.

We’ve expanded our community education efforts this year by hiring a Director of Education to manage our school outreach efforts as well as Compost House, our residential program.

  1. Tell us more about your partnership with Don’t Waste Food SC. How does a public-private partnership like this benefit the community?

DHEC is at the forefront of the movement to reduce food waste with the DWFSC program. They are ahead of the curve, and backing up the thought with action. Last year, they awarded 92 grants of $2500 each to help get local recycling and composting programs launched. Public- private partnerships are valuable when you take the 50,000 foot view of what’s possible and how to make a difference.

  1. Last year you were making donations to schools, like Legacy Charter School. Are you still partnering with schools? What’s that program like now?

The school program is experiencing huge growth! The choice to focus on schools was because they feed a lot of people, so they also generate a lot of food waste. The education efforts are centered on elementary schools, because of the learning component as well as the age group, which is the most open to learning new ways of thinking about trash.

We want to interrupt the thought process of what to do with trash. The students learn the why and how of composting, and hopefully as adults they will expect something different. They will just grow up knowing that food waste doesn’t belong in a landfill.

  1. How does the outreach program work?

There are a few different components to the school program. There is classroom learning, where they talk to students about how composting works and why it is important. Then they work in the lunchroom, observing how the normal activity works, and finally they have the students using the bins for composting. The goal is to integrate the program into normal activity. Everything about eating lunch stays the same, but food waste just doesn’t end up in the garbage.

  1. What is Atlas Organics looking forward to? Is there anything exciting on the horizon?

The growth of the school program is reflective of the growth in the organization’s capacity. We are able to collect more waste and turn around more product. There is always something to do when you’re trying to change the world and run a business!

 

Thanks for chatting with us, Atlas Organics! We love to see the impacts our borrowers are making on their communities. Watch Atlas Organics’ composting program at work in South Carolina schools:

Learn more about community business financing or apply for a loan here. Learn more about SCCLF’s technical assistance here.