Gainesville Compost

Gainesville Compost waste bins are located at Fracture among other locations. The company uses bicycle power instead of trucks to move waste to composting locations. 

Yolandy Michel, Alligator

An idea sprouted by Chris Cano in Gainesville is now spreading its roots across the nation.

Cano, founder of Gainesville Compost, will be explaining his method of pedal-powered community composting next week at the U.S. Composting Council Conference in Oakland, Calif.

With Cano’s compost method, local restaurants fill up trailers made by local business Kanner Karts with compostable items, which are then pulled by bikes to nearby compost centers.

“The model of moving waste out of town to be handled out of sight is not only infeasible in a lot of ways, but it’s uninspiring in a lot of ways,” said Cano, 26. “What we’re doing is inspiring. It’s showing people that there could be a better way.”

After presenting his mission at last year’s Recycle Florida Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow conference in Orlando, Cano said it was so well-received that he was encouraged to submit an outline of his mission to the U.S. Composting Council, which then accepted him as a speaker for this year’s national conference.

The support for the mission of pedal-powered community composting was further illustrated when Cano went to finalize Gainesville Compost’s registration and was told that an anonymous donor had already paid its $275 entrance fee.

Cano said he hopes recognition at the conference will help people develop pedal-powered composting in other cities.

Alexandra Rozin, a UF soil and water science graduate student, said she hopes the national recognition of Gainesville Compost’s efforts will help the idea expand to other places.

“I hope that just by people speaking at conferences, we can get more people to catch on to composting, but it will probably take more than that,” said Rozin, 25. “Speaking is the first part of it.”

Kanner Karts founder Steven Kanner, 22, said he hopes Cano’s speech at the conference will provide incentive to advance sustainable technology internationally.

“In my eyes, he’s a champion for pedal-powered composting in Gainesville and soon the world,” Kanner said.

[A version of this story ran on page 5 on 1/23/2014 under the headline "Gainesville compost company to present at national conference"]