There are customers at both ends of our supply chain that will benefit from our services and products. Municipalities will benefit from our service by having an alternative means of waste disposal. Other potential customers who will benefit from our compost product include turf farms, fertilizer manufacturers, nurseries, landscapers, golf courses, homeowners, and even the federal government for use in highway construction reseeding. Therefore, we have two basic market segments; those waste treatment facilities which will benefit from our services and consumers who will benefit from our product.
The Worldwatch Institute reports that landfills are overflowing and the costs of disposing of sewage and garbage is rising. City leaders can relieve over extended municipal budgets, prevent the contamination of drinking water, and help farmers build healthier soils by recycling garbage and human waste back to farms. At least 13 U.S. states have 6 years or less before all of their landfills are completely full. (Paper 135: Recycling Organic Waste: From Urban Pollutant to Farm Resource.) We offer a service by which municipalities can dispose of their waste without it having to be land filled anywhere. This is of great value to this customer.
At the other end of our process are the users of our compost. According to Cornell University (www.cals.cornell.edu/dept/compost.feas.study.html) composting is experiencing a resurgence of activity which is driven by increased understanding of the agronomic benefits of compost utilization, and rising disposal costs for municipal wastes. Also, according to Purdue University (www.ctic.purdue.edu/Core4/Nutrient/ManureMgt/Paper35.html) consumption of compost in the commercial market is growing due to people looking for a more organic or natural substitute for traditional chemical fertilizers. Recycling is at the forefront of responding to this growth trend in the Mid-Atlantic USA. We will initially focus on selling compost to fertilizer manufacturers, nurseries, and landscapers. We already have commitments from a fertilizer manufacturer and a landscaper to purchase 600 tons per year or more of our compost material.
Five major market segments for compost have been identified:
The following table shows information regarding the number of potential customers in our target markets. This data is based on information taken from superpages.com.
As reflected in the table, there are approximately 34 waste treatment plants in West Virginia. These are all potential customers for our collection service and sources of material for compost processing. Additionally, there are a total of 1,779 potential customers in the initial target market for our compost product. This includes 11 fertilizer manufacturers, approximately 30 sod/turf farms, 324 nurseries, 483 golf courses, and 931 landscapers.
To target our customers, we examined the market trends. Mid-Atlantic Recycling's products target buyers of organic fertilizers and soil enhancers. This market has grown significantly in recent years and we expect to capture a quarter of this multi billion-dollar market.
This market growth is fueled by a more health conscious consumer. People are better informed about the potential side effects associated with chemical fertilizer products both to their health and to the environment.
The growth of a more organic approach to gardening comes at a time when chemical options are diminishing. In 2000, the federal Environmental Protection Agency reached agreement with the makers of two widely used pesticides — Diazinon and Chlorpyrifos — to phase them out because of health problems associated with overexposure. Popular brands of Diazinon include Ortho and Spectracide; Chlorpyrifos is marketed under the trade name Dursban and is included in numerous familiar products, including Ortho Lawn Insect Spray (Washington Post, Thursday, May 10, 2001).
According to an executive with the Scotts Co. in Marysville, Ohio, the pace of research into organic products continues feverishly, and their use is bound to increase.
Sales of organic foods have risen sharply. Organic food sales at the retail level totaled $10.4 billion, according to Katherine DiMatteo, executive director of the Organic Trade Association. This year, retail sales of organic foods are expected to exceed $15 billion — with more than $32 billion projected by 2009 (CNBC, Dec. 3, 2004).
Findings from a 15-year study at the Kamlath Institute, Newton, Pa., might lead to a solution that could help reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. The researchers suggest that regenerative agricultural management systems based on organic fertilizer can preserve carbon and nitrogen in the soil, thus reducing emissions. Moreover, they maintain that organic methods can produce the same yields as conventional systems that use synthetic fertilizer. If the major corn/soybean growing region of the U.S. were to adopt these organic practices, they say, the percentage of estimated annual carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere from fossil fuel combustion in the nation could be reduced by one to two percent (USA Today, June 1999).
Mid-Atlantic's products will help fill the growing need for organic fertilizers, and soil amendments, while helping to solve the problem of dwindling landfill space.
Several companies compete in the fertilizer market. Their major selling points are performance and price. However, health conscious consumers have created growing competition between chemical and organic products. Mid-Atlantic Recycling's competition can be divided into two forms: direct and indirect.
Our direct competitors would include other compost producers capable of producing sufficient product to supply the growing compost demand. There is no other compost producer in West Virginia that meets this need. Therefore, we have no direct competition in the state. Additionally, there are only a handful in the entire Mid-Atlantic USA; therefore, our direct competition on a regional basis is extremely limited.
Our indirect competitors are fertilizer manufacturers (who also are a part of our target market). As noted elsewhere in this business plan, the trend is away from chemical fertilizers, toward natural organic soil enhancers. Thus the market for chemical fertilizer is decreasing while our market is increasing.
Current trends in the market greatly favor the start-up of our recycling business.
Laws have been passed in West Virginia placing greater restrictions of the types of landfills which can receive human waste sludge. These laws take effect in 2008. Municipalities are already seeking alternative means of disposal as disposal prices are expected to skyrocket as landfill space decreases dramatically. Our recycling service solves this problem for municipalities.
The organic industry now boasts sales in excess of $9 billion at retail, with growth forecast to continue at 25% per year (http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/marketfarming/2002-October/000063.html). The demand for compost to use in organic farming and other applications is growing rapidly.
The possibility of growth in this market is realistically huge. Consider the following simple facts:
All of this means that Mid-Atlantic Recycling is poised to see tremendous growth.
Our service offers a feasible, even desirable, alternative to traditional means of disposing of human waste. Our product is a value added, soil enhancer that appeals to the growing environmental conscientiousness among consumers. Direct competition is almost nonexistent. We intend to position ourselves as the logical, economical choice for human waste disposal and compost production in West Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic region.
Indirect competitors are those companies that offer only chemical soil enhancers and plant foods. Mid-Atlantic Recycling feels that these companies are an indirect form of competition because though the products they promote attempt to give the same results as our direct competition, they fall far short of current market expectations, and it will only be a matter of time until these companies' products will be out-dated. Even so, Mid-Atlantic Recycling does acknowledge that as these companies' products become outdated, many companies will be certain to phase-in their own organic substitutes in place of the chemicals. This, in itself, presents a potential market for our compost.
To be a player in the organic fertilizer and soil produce market, Mid-Atlantic Recycling identified market needs to gain an overall competitive advantage. The following explains our product's competitive advantages. Our product is:
As noted earlier, direct competitors are essentially non-existent in the Mid-Atlantic region. Our major indirect competitors are chemical fertilizer manufacturers. However, their products are more costly and do not address the market's trend toward organic, natural soil enhancers.
Some municipalities have begun composting operations in an attempt to deal with waste disposal issues. They typically use a method in which sludge is placed on the ground in windrows which are turned periodically for aeration. This is an inefficient method of composting primarily because it is slow, taking 90 or more days, which means that availability is uncertain for consumers. Also, in this composting method high enough temperatures are not achieved to kill harmful bacteria and seeds that may sprout into weeds. Additionally, municipalities are not businesses, which means their marketing capabilities are limited. Their market primarily consists of local homeowners and businesses, which ignores the greater market. Also, this composting method requires a lot of ground space which restricts the operation. Finally, odor can be a problem for municipalities due to nearness of local residents or businesses. For these reasons, municipality composting efforts are not considered a competitive threat.
Mid-Atlantic Recycling's direct competition includes companies that produce an organic soil enhancement product. Organic soil enhancers are no longer a niche market. They have grown into a strong sub-market in the fertilizer and soil enhancement industry, and they now present significant competition for chemical fertilizer competitors. Major direct competition includes FSH, makers of Holy Cow Compost, and Scott's, makers of Iron Bull. Other examples of competing products are Monkey-Doo, Roots Organic, and Milorganite, the original (75 years) sewage sludge based organic fertilizer.