Ground Floor: The Compost Ninja works to divert material from landfill

'With our program, each person can divert over 500 pounds of material from the landfill each year'

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On average, Americans throw away around 25 percent of the meals they prepare.

Every day, the United States generates enough food waste to fill the Rose Bowl.

Aaron Hanson wanted to do something to address these troubling statistics, so he founded The Compost Ninja.

“More and more people want to know where their food comes from,” Hanson said. “They also need to understand where it goes.”

Where food waste goes is to ever-burgeoning landfills, Hanson said, which are responsible for a large share of the methane emissions that threaten environmental quality.

“There’s no real argument here,” Hanson said. “This is an issue, but it’s something that can be changed, and each one of us can make an impact.”

Hanson’s new business collects food waste that otherwise would end up in the landfill and turns it into nutrient-dense compost that will be supplied to gardeners and used to produce more food.

Each week, the Compost Ninja delivers fresh collection pails to customers’ homes. Customers fill the pails with food and other compostable waste according to a list provided on the lid of the pail. In addition to food scraps, items like paper towels, pizza boxes and coffee filters may be included.

The collection pails are exchanged weekly, and customers earn points based on the weight of the pails’ contents.

“With our program, each person can divert over 500 pounds of material from the landfill each year,” Hanson said. “That’s huge.”

The contents of the pails are composted at a Compost Ninja facility. Customers will be able to redeem the points they have earned for compost to be used in their own gardens or donated to a community garden or for fresh vegetables grown with the compost.

Growing up in Cedar Rapids near “Mount Trashmore,” Hanson saw firsthand the effects of a landfill on the surrounding community. He founded the Compost Ninja earlier this year after returning to Eastern Iowa following stints in California and Las Vegas.

He said compost programs like the Compost Ninja’s are trending in larger metropolitan areas across the country. His program is different because it includes the opportunity for customers to receive produce grown using the compost produced from their food waste.

Hanson said the program is free to customers during an initial 30-day challenge and costs $25 a month thereafter.

“The biggest thing I’m trying to stress is that customers aren’t necessarily paying for the services as much as they are investing in the community and their own health.”

• Know a company or manager who has been in business for less than a year that would be ideal for “Ground Floor”? Contact Francie Williamson at

At a Glance

• Owner: Aaron Hanson

• Business: The Compost Ninja

• Phone: (319) 826-0710

• Email:

• Website:

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