Our Green Atlantans: Melia Lesko with Greenco Environmental turns Atlanta’s food waste into organic compost!

Melia Lesko (above) and her husband Tim are the brains behind their local composting company, Greenco Environmental

Melia Lesko (above) and her husband Tim are the brains behind their local composting company, Greenco Environmental

Historically, Southerners are passionate people, devoted to our way of life and our families. Even better is finding a family who’s lifestyle and business revolves around a dedication to environmentally-friendly practices and sustainability. Meet Melia and Tim Lesko (and Tim’s brother, their parents, Melia’s mom, etc.) who make up the team behind Greenco Environmental. Greenco is the Southeast’s leading organic composting facility and collects yard waste and restaurant scraps from metro Atlanta and the surrounding areas. They work with restaurants, universities, and landscaping companies to create the perfect blend of organic materials that, in a mere 90 days, is turned into a rich fertilizer.

In the beginning…
Greenco Environmental was born a few years ago out of both necessity and desire. In 2006, life presented Tim Lesko with the opportunity to start his own business. With a passion for landscaping, he tossed around the idea of starting a landscaping company. Tim talked to the Department of Agriculture who told him that he could take food and lawn waste and, within 90 days, turn it into high-quality compost. So Tim and Melia set out to bring commercial composting to Atlanta.

First, Greenco needed to have land for their composting facility. But not just any land. They needed land zoned for heavy industrial use, in addition to a special permit to operate a landfill. Acquiring a landfill permit is typically a 9-10 year process – Melia and Tim were awarded theirs in two years. While the permitting process was underway, the Leskos searched for their ideal acreage for the facility and found it in Barnesville, Georgia, and in July 2007, they had their groundbreaking ceremony.

With Ready Pac as their very first customer, Greenco started composting in December 2008. Melia broke the business down for me into three main parts: the wholesale / manufacturer hauling of waste (with the big trucks), the making of compost, and the selling of compost. In order to handle all aspects of the company, Melia and Tim built a team. If you were to go down to the composting facility in Barnesville, you would find the certified site supervisor, a part-time guy to turn the composting piles, and four drivers who come and go. You’ll also find Tim down there some days, checking on the operation. Also involved is Tim’s brother Russ and their parents as well as Melia’s mom, who’s official job title is “Chief Babysitter.” (For pictures of the composting facility, check out my previous post about Greenco Environmental.)

How commercial composting works…
Melia’s and Tim’s facility in Barnesville consists of 32 active acres, three acres of wetlands, and two composting pads. Generating organic fertilizer actually requires a specific recipe and sequence of events. For every 1 ton of food waste, you need 3 tons of wood waste. With the tonnage collected and consolidated on one of the pads, the piles must reach an internal temperature of 150 degress in the first three days, then be turned every day for 15 days, and then be turned once every 15 days for a month, and, finally, once a month. As time goes by, the piles shrink, making room for new piles on the pad. Once the process is complete, Greenco bags up the final product of high-quality compost and sells it wholesale to businesses (and if you’re interested in wholesale fertilizer, you can contact Greenco Environmental at 770.872.3777).

Does your restaurant compost?
Wondering if your favorite restaurant composts? Or looking for Atlanta restaurants that support eco-friendly practices? Here is a partial list of some of Greenco Environmental’s clients:

  • Craft
  • Maggiano’s
  • Chops (who Melia pointed out is extremely dedicated)
  • Ecco
  • South City Kitchen (Midtown)
  • El Taco
  • Bold American Catering
  • Buckhead Diner (who is also using paper straws and compostable serving gloves and, with a high volume of customers and quick turnover, is a sort-of poster child for composting)
  • Atlanta Fish Market (where they compost their “heads, scales and tails” as Melia put it)
  • Intercontinental Hotel in Buckhead
  • Agnes Scott
  • Georgia Tech (who has now gotten rid of their trash compactor since they recycle so much)
  • Emory University
  • Hormel (they compost their bacon and beans)

Greenco is also bringing on about one Buckhead Life Group restaurant per week, so this list will be growing by leaps and bounds in the next year and beyond. Melia works closely with Gloria of the Georgia Recycling Coalition as well as Holly Elmore of Green Foodservice Alliance. Tim and Melia are heavily involved in the Zero Waste Zones in Downtown, Midtown, and Buckhead.

For pictures and more information, you can read my previous post about Greenco Environmental here!

About Our Green Atlantans: This is a series of articles about eco-minded people in our city that are making a difference every day. They are passionate about the environment and their business and lifestyle reflects that. You may or may not have heard about their company and their efforts in the news because they work tirelessly behind the scenes to make our Atlanta a greener place. This is my small effort to tell those behind-the-scenes stories and to hopefully connect like-minded people to each other so we can accomplish our environmentally-driven goals faster!

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Comments
2 Responses to “Our Green Atlantans: Melia Lesko with Greenco Environmental turns Atlanta’s food waste into organic compost!”
  1. Lamar County Citizen says:

    We all want to work to reduce the impact on our planet from the waste that we humans produce. But at what cost to the citizens of the area where the composting facility is located? Those of us who live in Lamar County near Greenco are treated on a regular basis to an overwhelming stench that is being released from the facility. We cannot open our windows or enjoy being in the outdoors. Our quality of life has been detrimentally impacted.If you are going to be fair in reporting, you must also include the downside of large composting operations.

  2. BOBBY says:

    DONT KNOW WHY THE STINK MINE NEVER, SMELLS HAVE COMPOSTED FOR 30 YEARS, SOUNDS LIKE NEEDS MORE FIBER.

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