Got Sewage?

30 08 2012

St. Louis Composting’s Patrick Geraty hooks up with a national syndicate that peddles sewage. 

by Bill Newmann

There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.” – Arthur Conan Doyle 

I have learned in the past that if you don’t have a seat at the table, you can be on the menu,” says Patrick Geraty, owner of St. Louis Composting Inc., the region’s largest commercial composter.

Geraty made the revealing comment to the board of directors of the U.S. Composting Council (USCC) late last year.  As part of his pitch to gain a board seat, Geraty also proposed adopting an advertising blitz similar to the now-famous mantra: “Got Milk?

The St. Louis businessman’s proposition is part of a recurring public relations barrage aimed at cleaning up an industry image sullied by its involvement in the toxic waste trade.

Geraty now dines at both the tables of the USCC and its governmental counterpart, the Missouri Solid Waste Advisory Board. The private and public agencies regulate wood waste – St. Louis Composting’s main raw material. But they also regulate another waste that’s being incorporated into compost with increasing frequency: sewage sludge.

Sewage sludge is raw sewage minus water. Raw sewage is everything that gets flushed down toilets and drains, including household, industrial, and medical wastes. Water-treatment plants collect raw sewage, and their main goal is to recover as much clean water as possible for reuse. The leftovers form a concentrated, toxic stew.

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Double Trouble

25 06 2012

When it comes to turning trees into mulch Patrick Geraty finds two companies are better than one

by Bill Newmann

Agricycle, Inc., a company with close ties to the holder of a lucrative city composting contract, is responsible for cutting down a large swath of St. Louis County’s dwindling woodlands in recent years, the Journal of Decomposition has learned.

Patrick T. Geraty of Kirkwood owns both Agricycle and St. Louis Composting, Inc., which took over the St. Louis Forestry Division’s municipal composting operation in 2009.  Though incorporated separately, the two companies are in essence branches of the same operation.

St. Louis Composting and Agricycle’s joint site in Valley Park

St. Louis Composting, which has the higher profile of the pair, rakes in an estimated $12 million annually, according to the St. Louis Business Journal, processing more than 500 million cubic yards of municipal organic waste, including St. Louis city street trees.  Meanwhile out in the burbs, Agricycle, the quieter sister company, gains its lucre by clear cutting more than 500 acres yearly for developers, according to an industry source.

Geraty founded St. Louis Composting in 1992, the same year that a new Missouri law banned yard waste from landfills.  Contrary to its name, however, the company was incorporated in Illinois, and originally included a trio of corporate directors from the Chicago area.  Three years later, Geraty incorporated Agricycle in Missouri.  Both companies share the same address: 39 Old Elam Avenue, which is next to a landfill in Valley Park, a suburban town in southwest St. Louis County.  Most of the companies’ other sites are located on or near former landfills.

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