[This story has been corrected to reflect that Walmart, Sam's Club and Target only provide food to EcoScraps. None of these companies sell EcoScraps products].
You could say EcoScraps is a rotten idea. That's because overripe produce that would otherwise have rotted is the feedstock for the startup's organic compost and potting soil.
Then again, few other two-year-old startups can boast that their products are sold by the likes of The Home Depot, America's largest home improvement business, and national wholesaler Costco. EcoScraps also has a relationship with Walmart, Sam's Club and Target. Along with Costco, they're among the businesses providing the food that will be made into EcoScraps products.
These large companies are contributing to the national expansion of a company that distinguishes its products by boasting about its chemical and manure-free composition. EcoScraps’ product line includes compost mix, potting soil, a plant and soil booster, and lawn and garden growth formula.
EcoScraps got started by knocking on the door of high-profile grocery stores and produce retailers and offering to pick up expired fruits and vegetables that would otherwise be sent to landfill. In exchange, the startup requested that these same stores sell the finished products.
"We realized we needed first to create demand for the finished product and work backwards from there," said Dan Blake, the 20-something entrepreneur who put his college degree on hold to found the two-year-old, Provo, Utah-based company with classmate Craig Martineau (now the EcoScraps vice president of finance).
The relationships with retailers, which EcoScraps negotiated on a regional basis in Calif., Utah and Arizona, were the company's first focus when the EcoScraps co-founders stopped experimenting with composting in their college dorm and got serious about their business plan.
Although it took persistence to get the stores interested, EcoScraps got its break when it connected with managers at Costco and The Home Depot who were interested in selling more products with an organic sensibility, Blake said.
Although EcoScraps isn't the first organic compost product to land on Home Depot shelves, it is the first product made entirely of composted fruits and vegetables, according to EcoScraps.
"Most companies and people -- as long as it doesn't cost them any more -- are very eager to do what is right for the environment," Blake said. "Our challenge is to create a program for them that is cost-neutral."
Photo of mulched food courtesy of EcoScraps
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