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Waste Management going for 'black gold'

Garbage collector plans to offer organic gardening products made from expanded organic waste collection service.

Garick ad for its Paygro Black Satin brand of all organic mulch. Garick

The trash and recycling services company Waste Management is expanding into the organic gardening business, the company announced Wednesday.

The Houston-based company has acquired Garick, which manufactures things like mulch, garden compost, and playground turf made from recycled organic materials.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed. WM only went so far as to announce that Garick's composting facilities will be used to augment WM's existing organic recycling services, and offer a line of organic garden products made from WM-collected biomass waste.

The new line of products will include organic garden compost, which is often referred to by gardeners as black gold because the nutrient-rich material enhances plant growth when added to soil.

Garick currently has the capacity to compost more than 1 million tons of material per year, according to WM. So, where will the trash mega-giant get all this organic waste to make the gardening products?

The company plans to expand its food and organic waste removal service--also known as organics recycling.

WM said in a statement it believes many large food companies and retailers, in the interest of sustainability, would use an organics recycling service. The service would be akin to the way many companies opt for cardboard or plastics recycling collection as a way to improve their carbon footprint.

The deal helps WM work toward its goal of "doubling its renewable energy production, tripling the amount of recyclables processed by 2020, and investing in new technologies for managing waste."

The company hinted that expansion of organics recycling services could also serve as fodder for the company's biofuel aspirations.

"Recycling organics through composting and other technologies that may produce energy, fuel, or specialty chemicals enables us to generate more value from this specific material stream," Tim Cesarek, managing director of Organic Growth at Waste Management, said in a statement.

WM already has a trash-to-energy project that garners fuel from landfill gas. It's not a far leap to think WM may be planning plants similar to Enerkem's waste-to-ethanol plant in Canada, which uses compostable trash to make ethanol.