New Earth Soils & Compost
New Earth is the largest independent composting facility in South Texas, recycling more than 1 million pounds of green waste daily. The company has contracts with the San Antonio Water System (SAWS), the San Antonio River Authority (SARA) and several other wastewater utilities to recycle biosolids. In late 2008, residents living near New Earth's operations began complaining of odors. Air quality investigators from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) launched an investigation to determine the source of the odors, sparking several negative stories by the local media.
KGBTexas developed a message platform emphasizing the environmental benefits New Earth provides to the community and quantifying the savings the company produces for SAWS ratepayers. We produced a fact sheet including photographs of some of the public places landscaped with New Earth's recycled organic materials, including the San Antonio River Walk, San Antonio Botanical Gardens, San Antonio International Airport and The Shops at La Cantera. KGBTexas advised New Earth to focus its communications efforts on a grassroots level rather than through the media. We organized meetings and tours with elected officials and community leaders and established the New Earth Neighborhood Advisory Committee consisting of two representatives from each of the nearby neighborhoods.
The New Earth Neighborhood Advisory Committee has been a great success. Some of New Earth's most outspoken critics have written letters thanking the company for the open dialogue and attention to the issue. Through a series of operational improvements, odor levels have dropped more than 80 percent, and officials with the TCEQ, SAWS and Bexar County have received fewer complaint calls. Recent stories focused on New Earth's environmental initiatives, including free disposal of construction debris for projects seeking LEED and Build San Antonio Green certification, the recycling of more than1,000 tons of materials used as bedding in the animal stalls of the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, and New Earth's donation of organic materials to the San Antonio Food Bank's Spurs Community Garden.