By Debbie Bryant, Outings Co-Chair
From the Winter 2024 newsletter
Recently I visited two Albuquerque manufacturing firms: Submaterial, which makes efforts to reuse or recycle their waste byproducts from their interior architectural products, and Soilutions, which takes organic materials that might otherwise end up in a landfill producing methane and turns them into prime topsoil.
Founded in 2006 in Seattle, Submaterial relocated to Albuquerque in 2012 and now employs 32 people. They manufacture architectural acoustical panels using natural and sustainable materials such as wool felt, cork, and wood. Submaterial uses byproducts from their industrial projects in the residential market. A lot of their cork and felt byproducts go to local schools, artists, makers, and become dog toys for Animal Humane’s Doggie Dash and Dawdle event. Biodegradable leftover waste goes to Soilutions, another local firm that produces mulch, compost and topsoil. Submaterial Marketing Director Brigid Harmon says they submitted the specification for their glue to Soilutions to ensure there wouldn’t be an impact on the quality of Soilutions’ compost.
Visiting Soilutions meant driving through the south side of Albuquerque, surrounded by industry. At their office, I was struck by how much of an oasis they are. You can smell the warm dirt and hear the Sandhill cranes at the Rio Grande. I met with co-owner Dawn Dewey and Wendy Blair of Soils and Marketing. Both are passionate about what they do, which is lovely and often missing from the working world. Wendy is a Master Gardener and Dawn grew up in the business.
Soilutions is New Mexico’s largest private compost and soil company and was started by the Brooks family 28 years ago. In 2021, Justin and Dawn Dewey bought Soilutions and are very enthusiastic about the future. The business is also a “carbon sequesterer” and is helping to reduce our carbon load.
Soilutions diverts tons of organic waste from landfills each year, and their intake fees are lower than the dump’s. Their green waste suppliers include businesses (such as Bueno Foods green chile peels), Little Green Bucket, which does home and business compost pickup, grocers, restaurants, hotels, and even Sandia Labs. They use these materials to produce mulch and compost using carefully controlled processes and temperatures. Various piles of in-progress materials have to be turned, mixed and temperature-controlled over about a year. The soils are tested to ensure their quality is high.
The richly colored soils they produce smell as if you are going on a hike through the woods. End-use customers include landscapers, contractors, gardeners, and farmers throughout the state. Soilutions products are carried by other local companies, such as Osuna Nursery, Rehm Nursery, and Los Poblanos Lavender Farm uses their compost.