The Compost People

Rich Salvante and Netty Bourdeau-Ott will collect your food scraps and turn them into compost for you.

When Netty Bourdeau-Ott, Parkway Drive, visits her brother in Maine, she is always impressed by their home compost pickup service—basically, he collects food scraps for a company to pick up each week and they will give him compost in return, if he wants it. Bourdeau-Ott found herself wondering why no one has started a composting service in Mt. Lebanon.

So she started one. She got in touch with Rich Salvante, Duquesne Drive, who already had an established commercial composting pickup service, and together they built The Compost People. Currently serving just Mt. Lebanon, The Compost People is dedicated to protecting the environment by reducing landfill use.

“Any items that can break down—food products, paper products, etc.—if you put that into a landfill, it creates a lot of methane, and that’s a lot worse for the environment than carbon. So taking that stuff out of landfills decreases methane. Plus, it’s amazing for soil,” says Bourdeau-Ott.

Due to state regulations, it can be complicated to collect food waste on a large scale here in Pennsylvania. But Salvante’s established commercial business already had the infrastructure necessary—a large truck, pickup routes and a relationship with a farm in Uniontown—to expand into residential services.

The Compost People opened in February, and they now serve 83 households in Mt. Lebanon. They would like to continue growing here before expanding to other areas of the South Hills. “We just want to help this community become a little more green,” says Bourdeau-Ott.

How it works: Visit and select a monthly or yearly subscription. The yearly subscription includes the starter kit, which is $15 if you choose to pay monthly and includes a five-gallon bin and 8 compostable bags. Subscriptions are $18/month or $216/year. When you receive your bin, you can start collecting  food scraps. The Compost People website has a member portal with resources and information on what can be composted. Then simply place your bin at the curb the night before your designated pickup day, and they’ll collect it in the morning. They pick up compost weekly, usually on Saturdays. Come springtime, you can receive a bag of compost for free or choose to opt out.

“This is the easy way to compost,” says Bourdeau-Ott. “Using commercial compost—it’s mixed with cow manure and wood chips—it breaks down so much more than [at-home] composting ever could. The bin just looks like a little flower container on the counter. You also don’t have to take your scraps outside every night … in general, if you care about the environment and you want to do something to do a little part to help, this is one easy way to do that little step.”

Photo by George Mendel