A1 Organics

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WARNING! Sewage sludge is toxic. Food should not be grown in "biosolids." Join the Food Rights Network.


This article is part of the Food Rights Network, a project of the Center for Media and Democracy. Find out more here.

A1 Organics is a composting company in Colorado that uses sewage sludge in its compost products.[1] The company expanded to Nevada in 2006.[2] While the company's name implies the products might be organic, sewage sludge is prohibited by the USDA organic standards. In 2007, the US Composting Council, an organization that promotes the use of sludge in compost, named A1 Organics "2007 Composter of the Year."[3] The owner of A1 Organics, Chuck Wilson, serves on the board of the US Composting Council.

A1 Organics was founded in the 1970's to use compost "as an effective method for managing feedlot waste" for a family farm and a commercial lamb feeding operation.[4] Today, A1 composts contain the following materials: biosolids (sewage sludge), brewers waste, dairy and feedlot manure, food waste, garden waste, grass, hog manure, horse manure, animal mortalities, leaves, packaging plant by-products, shrubs, sod, tree trimmings, turkey manure, and weeds. Its products are sold in several Colorado cities, including Golden, Centennial, Colorado Springs, Longmont, La Salle, and Boulder.[5] "A1 is the largest organic recycler and producer of quality composts in the Rocky Mountain region. The company has evolved from one location to six major sites along the Front Range. Annually, A1 currently produces in excess of 350,000 cubic yards of... compost and soil amendments per year."[6]

Donating Sewage Sludge Products to Community Gardens

In 2013, the USCC began a PR campaign it called the "Million Tomato Compost Campaign," which it said "connects community gardens, compost producers, chefs and food banks to grow healthy soil, healthy food, and healthy communities."[7]

According to the campaign website, "USCC's STA certified compost producer members will donate STA-certified compost to participating community gardens who sign on to the Million Tomato Compost Campaign. Community gardens will use their compost to grow one million tomatoes, either for their own use or for donation to local food banks. Chefs will work with the community gardeners, schools and nonprofits to teach people about using sustainably grown local food in recipes that even kids will love!"[8]

Of the dozens of producers in almost all 50 states that participate in the USCC's STA program, at least six are known to use industrial and residential sewage sludge in their products: A-1 Organics, EKO Systems (one of whose plants was producing 3,090 dry tons of sewage sludge product a year as of 2010), Synagro (the largest processor of sewage sludge in the United States), WeCare Organics, the Inland Empire Regional Composting Authority (the Los Angeles area sewage treatment facility, sewage sludge from which is also used in products like those from Kellogg Garden Products), and Engel & Gray, Inc.'s Harvest Blend Compost.

These products are some of the sewage sludge products known to be sold by corporations and municipalities. To dispose of sewage sludge produced by wastewater treatment plants, the industry and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have renamed them "biosolids" and dubbed them as "green" examples of recycling, beneficial reuse, and organic fertilizer and compost products. In many cases, the sewage sludge is then packaged as compost or fertilizer and sold to unsuspecting gardeners or farmers.

Sludge contaminants can include flame retardants (which California recently listed as a carcinogen, or cancer-causing agent), antibacterial agents like triclosan, phthalates (the solvent that gives vinyl plastic the nickname "Poison Plastic") and other industrial solvents, nanosilver and other nanomaterials, endocrine disruptors, pharmaceutical residues, resistant pathogens, and perfluorinated compounds. Some of these contaminants can "bioaccumulate" in plants grown in sludge-contaminated soil and remain as residue on vegetables in contact with the soil. These plants can then eaten by children and adults.


A1 offers a number of composts, mulches, and soils, including the following branded products:[9]

  • BioComp: Compost made from brewer's yeast, wood wastes, sewage sludge, and "at times, [wastewater] treatment plant residuals."
  • EcoGro: Compost made from limb waste, food waste, leaves, grass, and beer.
  • ProGro: A fine-textured material made from A-1's Evergreen compost.
  • Premium 3: Compost made from dairy cow manure and bedding materials.
  • 2nd Chance: Mulch available in a variety of colors
  • Screened topsoil: "Screened farmland soil, or a combination of residuals and other blends."
  • Amended topsoil: Screened topsoil combined with 30% compost.
  • Planters Mix: A 50/50 blend of screened topsoil and Biocomp.


A1's management is as follows:[10]


Articles and Resources

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External Resources

External Articles


  1. Sludge Compost Facilities, NEBRA Report BioCycle Magazine, December, 2010.
  2. USCC Website Accessed 4/16/2011.
  3. USCC Website Accessed 4/16/2011.
  4. About Us, Accessed April 22, 2011.
  5. Resources, Accessed April 22, 2011.
  6. About Us, Accessed April 22, 2011.
  7. Leanne Spaulding, U.S. Composting Council, RE: Happy ICAW 2013!, organizational email to members, May 7, 2013.
  8. U.S. Composting Council, Buy-Compost.com, Million Tomato Compost Campaign website, accessed May 2013.
  9. The Products of A1 Organics, Accessed April 22, 2011.
  10. About Us, Accessed April 22, 2011.