Startup Stories: Waste Not
Naples Compost offers pick-up service for local clients.
Hannah Rinaldi and her son, Robert
Hannah Rinaldi has always been passionate about the environment. She helped to bring recycling to her college campus in Mississippi. That’s where she met her husband, Tom, while both were earning undergraduate degrees in biology. After relocating to Florida, the couple paid a private service to pick up their recycling when the city of St. Petersburg didn’t offer it.
Rinaldi was happy to find a recycling program existed in Naples when they moved here five years ago to raise their family. But she noticed that something else was lacking—composting.
“I know on the west coast of the U.S., composting is huge,” she says. “They don’t want to send their food to a landfill because it’s such a waste of space.”
Now that Naples had become their home, her husband asked her, “What’s keeping you from bringing it here?”
What evolved from that question is Naples Compost, which offers a way for residents to be more environmentally conscious with minimal effort. The company provides a branded countertop compost bin with a charcoal filter as part of the weekly pick-up service fee ($40 per month or $399 per year). Plans are also available for commercial and HOA or condo clients.
Co-owners and the company’s only employees, the Rinaldis process about 40 pounds of waste each week for seven residential clients in two large compost bins in their own back yard. Food scraps are turned into soil, which is returned several times a year to customers who want it for gardening. She says it’s estimated that nearly one-fourth of the trash that’s thrown away could be diverted from landfills by being composted.
Rinaldi, who has a master’s in science education, turned her idea into reality by first researching the local market to make sure community composting wasn’t available already. Her husband, a litigation attorney, shares her passion for educating people about the environment. So the couple dipped into their savings to launch Naples Compost on Earth Day in April of this year, after finding a partner company that handled agricultural waste.
“[The agricultural partner] has since shut down, so we’re processing it all ourselves,” she says.
“That’s par for the course. There are a lot of bumps in the road along the way, but you’ve got to keep going.”
Rinaldi says the biggest expenses in launching Naples Compost were the countertop bins and company logo stickers. After weighing options, they invested in 100 bins at a slightly higher cost than a larger bulk order to simplify storage logistics.
Rinaldi says her plan for growing the Naples-area pick-up service portion of the business is word of mouth. “I’m hoping that people who are already interested in this niche will tell their friends,” she says. She also wants to find another agricultural partner to accept large quantities, and to buy trucks to transport bulk loads from commercial clients.
The Naples Compost website, maintained by local contractor Jessica LeBrun, has a much broader reach and greater potential for profit by selling composting products. Rinaldi gained experience over the past few years running an online business and getting advertisers through her personal blog, eatdrinkandsavemoney.com. She applied those skills to Naples Compost and has an Amazon affiliate partnership to receive a percentage of all products sold through naplescompost.com.
Naples Compost recently helped the Conservancy of Southwest Florida create its own composting program. “I want to make a bigger difference,” Rinaldi says. “And I feel I can do that with Naples Compost.”