We created Upcycle & Co. because we believe in putting waste to work. We use the most nutrient-dense materials we can find to green landscapes, gardens—and the planet.

Keeping pollution-causing nitrogen out of our waterways and greenhouse gas-producing organic matter out of landfills is central to our work. The result is a product that’s great for plants and kinder to the environment. Giving used things a new future: that’s the Upcycle way.

photograph looking down at feet in the dirt with peppers growing

Retro polaroid photograph of a child in a garden

The Idea:
Grow Better

Raised by a family of avid gardeners, founder and CEO Jared Criscuolo has green in his genes. He founded Upcycle & Co. with the idea that we can grow better.

Instead of using synthetic fertilizers that contaminate waterways, why not use the nutrient-dense organic matter we’ve already got—and keep that waste out of landfills in the process? A fertilizer that helps build soil health and stability. A new life for waste. And a win-win-win for plants, people, and the planet.

Our Secret?
It’s Nothing New

We’re all about used stuff. We take what would normally wind up in a landfill: food waste, organic matter, and even sterilized human waste, and we safely reuse it to create one of the most effective and sustainable fertilizers available. It’s a practice that’s nearly as old as agriculture itself, and it helps solve a very modern dilemma: climate change.

Photograph of a person with fertilizer in their hand

photograph of a fertile field with a fence bisecting it

Reduce, Reuse,

When food and other organic material winds up in landfills, it produces methane, a greenhouse gas 86 times more potent than CO21. In fact, landfills are one of the leading emitters of human-made methane in the United States2. So turning waste into fertilizer not only helps reduce greenhouse gases, it helps return nutrients and carbon to the soil, where they create a rich growing environment for plants—and a greener future for us all.

1. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change2. EPA.gov

As members of 1% For The Planet, we donate one percent of our sales to environmental non-profits.

1% for the Planet logo

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between sewer sludge and biosolids?

Biosolids are treated sewage sludge. Biosolids are carefully treated and monitored and must be used in accordance with regulatory requirements. There are two primary classes of biosolids, Grade B, and Grade A. Biosolids that exceed the Grade A standard are referred to as Grade EQ (Exceptional Quality). It is these Grade AEQ biosolids that are used in the the Native Soil blend.

How are biosolids created?

Biosolids are created through the treatment of domestic wastewater generated from sewage treatment facilities. The treatment of biosolids can actually begin before the wastewater reaches the sewage treatment plant. In many larger wastewater treatment systems, pre-treatment regulations require that industrial facilities pre-treat their wastewater to remove many hazardous contaminants before it is sent to a wastewater treatment plant. Wastewater treatment facilities monitor incoming wastewater streams to ensure their recyclability and compatibility with the treatment plant process.

Once the wastewater reaches the plant, the sewage goes through physical, chemical and biological processes which clean the wastewater and remove the solids. If necessary, the solids are then treated with lime to raise the pH level to eliminate objectionable odors. The wastewater treatment processes sanitize wastewater solids to control pathogens (disease-causing organisms, such as certain bacteria, viruses and parasites) and other organisms capable of transporting disease.

Are biosolids safe?

Per the United States Environmental Protection Agency:

The National Academy of Sciences has reviewed current practices, public health concerns and regulator standards, and has concluded that “the use of these materials in the production of crops for human consumption when practiced in accordance with existing federal guidelines and regulations, presents negligible risk to the consumer, to crop production and to the environment.

How are biosolids used?

Farmers and gardeners have been recycling biosolids for ages. Biosolids recycling is the process of beneficially using treated the treated residuals from wastewater treatment to promote the growth of agricultural crops, fertilize gardens and parks and reclaim mining sites. Land application of biosolids takes place in all 50 states.

To determine whether biosolids can be applied to a particular farm site, an evaluation of the site’s suitability is generally performed by the land applier. The evaluation examines water supplies, soil characteristics, slopes, vegetation, crop needs and the distances to surface and groundwater.

There are different rules for different classes of biosolids. Class A biosolids contain no detectible levels of pathogens. Class A biosolids that meet strict vector attraction reduction requirements and low levels metals contents, only have to apply for permits to ensure that these very tough standards have been met. Class B biosolids are treated but still contain detectible levels of pathogens. There are buffer requirements, public access, and crop harvesting restrictions for virtually all forms of Class B biosolids.

Nutrient management planning ensures that the appropriate quantity and quality of biosolids are land applied to the farmland. The biosolids application is specifically calculated to match the nutrient uptake requirements of the particular crop. Nutrient management technicians work with the farm community to assure proper land application and nutrient control.

Do biosolids have use restrictions?

In general, exceptional quality (Class A) biosolids used in small quantities by general public have no buffer requirements, crop type, crop harvesting or site access restrictions. Exceptional Quality biosolids is the name given to treated residuals that contain low levels of metals and do not attract vectors. When used in bulk, Class A biosolids are subject to buffer requirements, but not to crop harvesting restrictions. In general, there are buffer requirements, public access, and crop harvesting restrictions for virtually all forms of Class B biosolids (treated but still containing detectible levels of pathogens).

Have you run tests on what’s in your Grade AEQ biosolids?

Indeed we have. The following information is from our testing regarding pathogens and other nasty stuff you don’t want in your fertilizer. You can download the results of our tests on not only the biosolids, but the algae and beer grains as well.

Download here.

Where can I learn more about biosolids?

We would suggest you go straight to the horse’s mouth. The EPA website has a good deal of information about the health and safety of the various biosolids used in the United States.


Want to learn more?

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