Rethinking compost bins

A compost bin lined with a white plastic bag, seen from above. The bin is filled to the brim with an assortment of onion skins, eggshells and other vegetable waste.

Rethinking compost bins

How access to cutting-edge research tools helped a Canadian company take off
May 21, 2015

The only household chore worse than taking out the trash is taking out the compost. Sixty percent of Canadians compost at home, but bags designed to line compost bins are often prone to leaking and don’t compost well because they’re made of polymers that are slow to break down. McMaster University student, Morgan Wyatt, and brother Jackson of the University of Toronto used their backgrounds in microbial metabolism and product design to develop a solution to this nuisance. The Greenlid is the first-ever disposable compost bin made entirely of natural materials. The Canadian-made product is now available in Home Hardware, Home Depot, Canadian Tire, London Drugs and other retailers across Canada and has had sales of more than $350,000 since its launch in December 2014.

Morgan credits the success of the product partly to his experience as a PhD student at McMaster, where he worked at the Michael G. Degroote Institute of Infectious Diseases with biochemistry professor, Nathan Magarvey, from 2009 to 2014. During this time, Morgan used equipment funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation to make new drugs from natural sources such as bacteria, which, he says gave him the skills and knowledge needed to create the formulation responsible for the Greenlid’s leak resistance and super compostability.

The Wyatt brothers launched a prototype for their product on an online fundraising platform in February 2014, raising $26,000 and selling more than 12,000 containers. This proof of concept earned them an appearance on CBC’s Dragon’s Den and a partnership worth $85,000 for 20 percent of the company. The entrepreneurial brothers are now looking to produce a larger bin as demand for their innovative product increases.