The Compost Plant is Bringing Industrial-Scale Composting to Rhode Island



Providence Resident Leo Pollock Selected for National “Better World Entrepreneur” Fellowship:

 Bringing Industrial-Scale  Composting to Rhode Island

Providence, RI – (January 27, 2015) The Wild Gift Fellowship program has selected Leo Pollock, a Providence, RI resident, as one of their 2015 Fellows. Pollock was selected for his innovative proposal to create the first full-service commercial compost operation in Rhode Island: The Compost Plant.  The Wild Gift Fellowship program selects extraordinary leaders from around the United States, takes them on a deep wilderness trip in Idaho, and provides start-up capital and expert mentorship to accelerate their better world ideas.

The Compost Plant, co-owned by Pollock and his business partner, Nat Harris, is Rhode Island's first commercial food scrap collection service. The business will soon expand to also include the state’s first industrial compost facility. Designed and managed as a social enterprise business (L3C), The Compost Plant aims to directly address the profound impacts solid waste management has on social equity, the local community and environmental quality in Rhode Island. The business currently provides customized organic waste hauling pickup for local restaurants, food-processors, and food businesses, and once fully up and running, will produce premium compost for local gardeners and farmers.

Leo is a committed entrepreneurial leader who is deeply dedicated to making our world better. With his experience in urban agriculture and food systems development in Rhode Island, Leo is uniquely poised to make the most of the Wild Gift Fellowship’s mentoring, collaboration, and seed capital to carry The Compost Plant forward to the next level.  We are confident in Leo’s ability to drive a critically needed environmental service in Rhode Island, and set a model for regional action to better address waste and its impacts on climate change and environmental quality,” said Deborah Knapp, Executive Director of the Wild Gift.

Shannon Brawley, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Nursery and Landscape Association agrees, stating: “The Compost Plant is well-timed and well-positioned to fundamentally change Rhode Island’s landscape of waste, while reinforcing the power of healthy soil for developing a strong local food system in Rhode Island and New England.”

Pollock’s business directly taps into the significant growth in Rhode Island’s local agriculture and plant-based industry sectors (including nursery and landscaping), with total economic impact estimated at $1.78 billion.  According to a recent compost industry article, nearly half of the 164 million homeowners in the U.S. gardened in the past 12 months and on average, spent $530 to $615/year on lawn and garden products. The 2013 National Gardening Survey (NGS) showed retail sales of garden products reach $34.9 billion for the year, an 18 percent increase over 2012, and the largest increase in the last century, according to expert analysis.

In less than 25 years, Rhode Island’s only landfill will reach full capacity” said Pollock, co-founder of The Compost Plant. “By diverting compostable waste, we can lengthen the life of the landfill, reduce odor and methane emissions, and decrease waste disposal costs for local businesses. We’re ready to change Rhode Island’s landscape of waste, and create a top-quality, locally-produced soil that will help Rhode Island farmers and gardeners grow more local food.”


The Compost Plant will position itself as the first full-service commercial compost operation in Rhode Island. The Compost Plant currently provides organic waste hauling pickup for local restaurants, schools, universities, food-processors, and food businesses, and will ultimately produce high-quality compost for the retail and wholesale market in southern New England, increasing access to locally-produced compost, diverting tons of waste from landfills, and building a unique Rhode Island brand that capitalizes on the surging interest in locally and organically-produced food. They are currently piloting a forced air technology system for composting, to showcase the organics management potential in urban/suburban areas. This new systems approach to managing waste is driving a shift in thinking of organics as waste to viewing organics as a resource. The Compost Plant is a social enterprise business (L3C), headed by Leo Pollock and Nat Harris.  Pollock is currently the Network Coordinator for the RI Food Policy Council, and was one of the key architects in its design and development. Harris is the founder of Newport Biodiesel, New England's first sustainable biodiesel production facility, producing 1.5 million gallons of biodiesel annually from locally sourced used cooking oil, and offsetting 25 million tons of CO2 per year. Pollock and Harris were 2014 Rhode Island Innovation Fellowship Finalists for their proposal to launch The Compost Plant.


Wild Gift selects extraordinary leaders, takes them on a deep wilderness trip and gives them start-up capital and expert mentorship to accelerate their better world ideas. We achieve our mission by supporting our Fellows with:

·         A deep wilderness experience (unplug) designed to inspire personal vision and perspective

·         Experienced mentors to assist project development and execution

·         Seed funding for better world ventures

·         An annual forum to strategize for continuing success of better world ventures

·         An active network of collaborative social entrepreneurs


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