Where does your compostable Chipotle bowl go after you toss it in the trash? #TheQandA
You eat the food and you throw out the container -- but where does it go? Ariane Datil went to a composting farm in Virginia to get the answer.
Author: Ariane Datil
Published: 8:55 PM EDT September 30, 2019
Updated: 7:04 PM EDT October 9, 2019
Q-AND-A 3 Articles

Where does your compostable Chipotle bowl go after you toss it in the trash? #TheQandA

Chapter 1


What happens to compostable bowls after you throw them out?

To get that answer, our #TheQandA team met up with the Veteran Compost crew at Whitehall Farm in Clifton, VA. Whitehall Farm is a composting farm that receives compostable waste from homes and businesses like Chipotle and Sweetgreen. 

Chapter 2

Short Answer

What is compost/ing?

First let's tackle the question: What exactly is composting? 

Compost is also known as gardener's gold. That's because when you use compost as your soil, plants grown bigger and stronger. 

Composting is the process of breaking down organic materials like food. In this case, objects made from compostable materials, like Chipotle and Sweetgreen bowls, and turning them into soil.  

The process of composting is helpful to the environment. It creates more nutrient-rich soil and removes harmful elements like CO2 from the atmosphere.

Chapter 3

More Details

Fritz from Veteran Compost has about 20 employees that pick up green composting bins from homes and businesses in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. When the composting bins get to the farm they're unloaded and put into a sectioned off area where they're covered with charcoal for about a week or two.

Following that process, the mush is moved to another pile where the microbes get to work further breaking down the organic materials. You'll know the process is complete when the temperature increases to about 140 degrees. At that point, the compost is ready to be put through the sifter. 

The sifter is like a sieve, with big pieces being separated from smaller pieces of compost. At Whitehall Farm, the big pieces are put through the process over and over until they are able to be turned into compost. 

Compost at its final stage looks kind of like wood chips mixed with soil, but it's much more than that. The microbes active in this soil are turning it into a rich medium for growing bigger and stronger plants. 

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At this farm, the fresh compost is then used both to germinate new produce seeds and plant those seeds into the farmland. 

So the answer to the question -- if your bowl is purchased at a Veteran Compost retail client, your compostable bowls and utensils are turned into soil and that soil is used to grow more produce. 

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This story is part of a new show called The Q&A. If you’ve got questions, we want to answer them. Each night at 7 p.m. and at wusa9.com/theqanda, we’ll tackle everything that you want to know. Just use #TheQandA on social media, email us at TheQandA@wusa9.com or make a comment/mention on any of our Facebook/Twitter/Instagram pages. 

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