Gainesville Compost

Chris Cano, a founder of Gainesville Compost, helps out at Porters Community Farm. He said Gainesville Compost helps supply the farm with fresh compost for its crops.

Griffin Horvath, Alligator Staff

A career revolving around composting and sustainability came naturally for Chris Cano.

Cano, a UF alumnus and the founder of Gainesville Compost, realized his love for composting and sustainability after making a home garden with roommates, using scraps from his kitchen to create the base for his soil.

According to a study published Thursday by environmental groups As You Sow and the Natural Resources Defense Council, most major food corporations are not as committed to a sustainable lifestyle.

“For me, it was really kind of a first-hand realization that what was thrown away can actually become something of a resource for my own agriculture,” Cano, 27, said.

According to the study, titled “Waste and Opportunity 2015,” packaging policies at large brands are using unnecessary amounts of packaging, leading to increased waste and potential ocean pollution.

Companies in the fast food sector were judged on four categories of packaging sustainability: recyclability and materials use, source reduction, recycled content and boosting recycled material.

Of the 16 businesses surveyed, only two — McDonald’s and Starbucks — ranked in the “better practices” category, the second-highest level below “best practices.” 

Liz Storn, a program coordinator at Sustainable UF, wrote in an email that even though the main goal is to create less waste, recycling and composting are two of the better disposal alternatives.

“Composting will produce a beneficial product in the long run … and recycling often allows new products to be made using fewer resources,” she said.

Cano and Gainesville Compost are working with more than 20 different local restaurants and businesses to limit the amount of waste that finds its way into landfills.

“The more we get partners on board with the containers outside — either the restaurants or homes — the more people start noticing this kind of movement toward composting,” Cano said.

Sweetwater Organic Coffee, located at 1331 S. Main St., is working with Gainesville Compost to reduce packaging waste at the local level.

Cano plans to expand Gainesville Compost to assist with on-site composting, giving locals the opportunity to compost in their own homes.

“Seeing (composting) with your own eyes is very powerful,” Cano said. “That’s why we’re trying to create new ways to help people do that themselves.”

[A version of this story ran on page 3 on 2/4/2015 under the headline “Local organizations work to reduce waste of GNV businesses"]