We undertook this effort, which has resulted in not only reducing our environmental impact, but has also reduced landfill costs and even generated revenue through the sale of the compost. What originated as an idea to reduce environmental impact has grown into a successful venture now known as Carolina Recycled Ag Materials, LLC, or CRAM.

With the assistance of Dr. Robert Rubin, Emeritus Professor at North Carolina State University, a Compost Demonstration Application was submitted to the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources Waste Management Division. Our application was accepted and approved in December 2012.

Our short-term marketing plan was to seek out customers for the finished compost such as farmers, landscape contractors, sod turfgrass producers, and the North Carolina Department of Transportation to use for roadside beautification projects.

As of April 2014, we had successfully composted approximately 2,000 tons of fresh compost under our Compost Demonstration Permit. Based on this success, we weighed the benefits of reduced landfill waste; reduced application of dust to the Nash Farm; and enhancement of our tobacco dust by composting.

We decided to construct an onsite compost facility that would handle the tobacco processing waste generated annually. Construction of a 12,800 square-foot, twelve-bin forced aeration compost facility on the Nash Farm was completed. It includes a process area where raw product is mixed, and finished product is screened. The facility became fully operational in April 2015, and produces Grade A compost, as defined by the state of North Carolina.

For the first two years of the project, sales of the compost were restricted to commercial end-users only. We decided to seek broader commercialization of the product with the opportunity to sell compost to local nurseries, who would resell to their customers.

The project has been highly successful, with more than 4,000 tons of material being composted to date. All results are being measured and continue to meet state requirements. Data is being collected and evaluated through test trials to provide valuable information about the compost product to growers.

Sales of the compost continue to increase. Our product is often a cost-effective alternative to commercial fertilizer. We are expanding our long-term marketing plan to include more potential outlets that could resell our compost to their customers.

We have successfully eliminated our solid waste charges for the processing facility's by-products as well as significantly reduced our environmental impact. The project is genuinely benefiting the community and the environment, not to mention our bottom line.