WILLIAMS, Ariz. - Good Earth Power AZ, LLC (GEPAZ) has entered into a strategic partnership with Roots Composting, LLC to produce a line of enriched soil products that will be sold and distributed throughout the southwest.
Flagstaff-based Roots is now part of Good Earth Power Soils, Ltd., the soils and bagged products division of GEPAZ. An expanded composting operation will be based on a 37-acre site off of Garland Prairie Road in Williams, where GEPAZ also plans to build a mill and processing facility.
GEPAZ expects to process 60,000 tons of biomass a year from its forest restoration operations on the west side of the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) project area, according to division director of soils and bagged products Martin Gillard.
Roots co-founders Kevin Ordean, Patrick Pfeifer and Matt Laessig started the business in 2013 after meeting through Northern Arizona University's Sustainable Communities graduate program. The company's proprietary composting process, which was developed by Pfeifer and adapted for local conditions, utilizes far less water than most industrial composting operations. It also repositions food waste as a raw material that is used to produce consistently rich, water-retentive soils.
"We want to change the way that people think about waste and we want to produce as much high quality soil as we possibly can for a region that needs it desperately," said Ordean, who served as CEO at Roots Composting and is now the director of soil operations for GEPAZ.
"When you talk about growing anything in Arizona, you have to talk about water," he said. "Compost has amazing water holding and filtering capabilities, which improve the growing environment. Compost helps scarce water resources work harder."
Using food waste to help compost biomass into soils diverts it from local landfills. The environment will also benefit through carbon avoidance.
"Waste that is hauled to the landfill decomposes anaerobically and produces methane gas," Pfeifer said. "Methane is 21 times more potent of a greenhouse gas than the carbon dioxide that is produced through aerobic composting, where oxygen is added to the process."
Plans call for slash from 4FRI task orders to be composted into soil and bagged on-site at GEPAZ's Williams processing facility, Gillard said. Composting is typically a three to four-month process. Officials hope to have products ready by the spring.
According to Good Earth Power CEO Jason Rosamond, GEPAZ's latest partnership is an example of how environmentally-focused companies and communities can work together to create sustainable benefits.
"Using the outputs of forest restoration to benefit soil and air quality, provide alternative energy sources and create sustainable economic growth is a full-circle model," he said.