In Jeffrey Neal’s vision, organic waste doesn’t need to be trucked far away, but instead can be composted in alleys and other spaces just behind the restaurants, homes and businesses that generate it.
In 2014, he started Loop Closing, a DC company that sets up special on-site compost systems that promise to be compact, sealed against pests and easy to use. To truly “close the loop,” the units generate nutrient-rich compost for urban gardens and the farms that feed the city.
The concept is catching on; this summer, Neal was awarded a prestigious Echoing Green fellowship, which provides two years of seed-stage funding and strategic support for social change leaders. Echoing Green selected 35 new fellows in 2018 and is providing more than $4.6 million in funds.
Neal is in good company. Fellows come from regions across the world and projects range from an app facilitating remote translations for refugees to technology to help Indian waste pickers get fair-trade rates to recycle plastic.
“The fellowship is very empowering,” he said, noting that the leadership and development support has been a tremendous help. With the fellowship helping to cover some living expenses, he said he’s able to focus on the technical side of his business, fund raising and building the team.
Neal, an early member of the DC Food Recovery Working Group, spent 24 years as an engineer with the U.S. Navy Civil Engineer Corps. As he worked on projects around the world, he noticed that there were limited options for sustainably disposing of food scraps. In 2014 he got involved in composting and soon after that, Loop Closing was born.
If you’d like to talk to Neal about setting up a system at your workplace or housing complex, you can reach him at email@example.com.