What becoming a public benefit corporation means to us

To begin 2022, Compost Crew became a public benefit corporation, changing our legal status from a limited liability corporation.  This change codifies our commitment to protecting the planet and creating high-paying jobs for a diverse workforce while running a profitable business.   

Our home state of Maryland actually was the first state to adopt legislation creating public benefit corporations.  A public benefit corporation has a statement of purpose in its charter that defines one or more specific public benefits the company will work towards achieving.  Today, over 30 states plus the District of Columbia allow businesses to register in this way. 

Some well-known public benefit corporations include Patagonia, Vital Farms, and Laureate EducationThis article from Forbes explains how benefit corporations are garnering more attention in public markets.   

The sole purpose of traditional companies is to maximize profit for its shareholders.  Public benefit companies, on the other hand, have to think differently because they have to consider the general public good in addition to making a profit.  For example, the CEO of Vital Farms, which raised over $200 million in an IPO in 2020, tells a story in this interview of a difficult decision his company made to shoulder a significant loss to save farms from bankruptcy, despite not having the contractual obligation to do so.

Patagonia, another benefit corporation, commits 1% of sales to the preservation of the natural environment and provides generous employee benefits, including on-site childcare, maternity and paternity leave, among other benefits and charitable activities.

Despite the increased awareness of benefit corporations, over half of Generation Z adults hold a negative view of capitalism, up from 38% who viewed it negatively in 2019, according to a survey by Axios and MomentiveOther polls have found that young adults view socialism more favorably than capitalism.

These changing views among young Americans are not surprising given reports about moguls like Jeff Bezos, who has amassed a net worth of $180 billion dollars while Amazon ranks among the top 20 employers with the most employees relying on Medicaid and food stamps.  What’s more, the company has created a marketplace for companies across the globe who supply the products available for purchase on the site, with no transparency into how workers are treated at these businesses.  Bezos has built a fortune for himself on the backs of his workers and customers, contributed just 1% of this wealth to philanthropic causes, and in the meantime is making headlines for selfish causes, like paying to dismantle a historical bridge to make room for his $485 million superyacht, because he allegedly can’t find enough ways to deploy his financial resources.  A public benefit corporation CEO would not be proud of these headlines.

At Compost Crew, our vision is of a nature-centric world that allows humans and all living things to thrive because we believe planet health and biodiversity are paramount.  We are contributing to this cause by eliminating food waste and revitalizing our soil through convenient and affordable composting solutions.  Achieving our mission while running a profitable, fast-growing business without government handouts requires us to think and act differently than most companies.  It’s hard work.

By converting to a public benefit corporation, we’re reiterating our commitment to rolling up our sleeves and doing this work for our customers, our workers, and the planet we inhabit.  

By: Ben Parry, CEO 

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