Engel & Gray, Inc.

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

Engel & Gray, Inc. is a company that manufactures at least one product made from sewage sludge. on California's Central Coast that, according to its website, works with the oil, agricultural, landscape, and construction industries, providing trucking, construction, environmental, and "roll-off services." It "operates a 40-acre Regional Composting Facility." The "roll-off division" does things like haul away agricultural waste, compost it, and return it to agricultural land.[1] Engel & Gray manufactures Harvest Blend Compost,[2] which contains sewage sludge -- referred to by its industry euphemism "biosolids" -- sourced from local municipalities.[3]

No law or regulation requires that sewage sludge be labeled in any way to warn you that the "organic compost" or "fertilizer you are buying contains it. So the sewage sludge industry, through its front groups like US Composting Council (USCC), is conducting the largest toxic scam in America, fooling millions of people into putting this hazardous waste product onto home and school gardens. Engel & Gray, Inc. is a member of the US Composting Council[4] and has received its Seal of Testing Assurance (STA),[5] a program developed in 2000 that requires minimal regular testing of compost products and uses standards that are designed to allow for certification of products containing sewage sludge.[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] Engel & Gray donated "compost" to VTC Community Garden and Santa Barbara Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden (its Harvest Blend Compost) in California in May 2013, according to USCC's Facebook page.[8][9] The Harvest Blend Compost donated to Santa Barbara Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden contains sewage sludge, according to the product's website.[3]

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!"[10]

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'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.

History, Background in Oil

According to the company's website, "Engel & Gray, Inc. was formed in 1946 as a partnership with Carl W. Engel and Joe W. Gray, who were both working with Union Oil Company of California. Carl was in production and Joe in marketing when Union Oil decided to discontinue their trucking operations. The first truck was bought, and Engel & Gray was in business. Soon cranes and construction crews were added as the company expanded along with the growth of Central Coast oilfields.[11]

"The company grew with the strong influence of quality and safety coupled with customer satisfaction. Building on strategic alliances with major energy companies, Engel & Gray, Inc. built a strong customer base. These alliances were instrumental in the company surviving the cyclical nature of the energy industry.[11]

"Carl W. Engel, Jr. and Robert Engel, who had both grown up in the business, purchased the company in 1986. The company became an early entrant into the environmental construction industry both within and outside the oil industry. Engel & Gray, Inc. became an industry leader, developing relationships with local regulators, and performing cost-effective remediation projects along the Central Coast.[11]

"In 1994, the company began to transcend the remediation industry and develop cost effective methods for composting different waste streams. This has evolved into the development of a regional compost facility within the Santa Maria Valley. The facility composts a variety of feedstock from different waste streams into beneficial products.[11]

"Today, Engel & Gray, Inc. is a diverse construction, transportation, crane and waste remediation firm, working with both large and small customers. Engel & Gray’s strength has been developing strategic business alliances with their trading partners to provide unique solutions. It is Engel & Gray, Inc.’s intent to continue to meet the challenges of a fast changing industry and to provide quality services to their trading partners for another fifty five years."[11]


As of May 2013, Engel & Gray, Inc. is owned by:[11]

  • Carl W. Engel, Jr.
  • Robert Engel

Contact Information

Engel Gray, Inc.
745 W Betteravia Rd.
Santa Maria, CA, 93454
Tel : (805) 925-2771
Fax : (805) 925-8023
Email : Sales AT engelandgray DOT com Facebook: Engel & Gray, Inc. and Harvest Blend Compost

Articles and Resources

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External Resources

External Articles


  1. Engel & Gray, Inc., Engel & Gray, Inc., company website, accessed May 31, 2013.
  2. Engel & Gray, Inc., Harvest Blend Compost, company product website, accessed May 31, 2013.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Engel & Gray, Inc., FAQ, company product website, accessed May 31, 2013.
  4. U.S. Composting Council, 2010 Member List (most recent made available to members by the USCC as of May 2013), organizational member list, accessed May 2013.
  5. U.S. Composting Council, Seal of Testing Assurance Participants, trade group website, accessed April 24, 2013.
  6. TMECC: Test Methods for the Examination of Composting and Compost Purpose, Composting Process, U.S. Composting Council
  7. Leanne Spaulding, U.S. Composting Council, RE: Happy ICAW 2013!, organizational email to members, May 7, 2013.
  8. U.S. Composting Council, VTC Community Garden in California is participating in the USCC #MillionTomato #Compost Campaign, compost donated by USCC and STA member Engel & Gray, Inc :), organizational Facebook post, May 22, 2013.
  9. U.S. Composting Council, Here is another California Community Garden who just joined the #MillionTomato #Compost Campaign with support from USCC and STA member Harvest Blend Compost, organizational Facebook post, May 22, 2013.
  10. U.S. Composting Council, Buy-Compost.com, Million Tomato Compost Campaign website, accessed May 2013.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 Engel & Gray, Inc., About Us, company website, accessed May 31, 2013.