Environmental Transformation and Climate Green Building Innovation and Design

Disrupting Dirt – PittMoss, A Recycled Alternative to Peat Moss, Poised for Expansion

Written by Staff Writer

Most people do not realize their bags of potting soil are filled with peat moss – a material that is mined and exported across the world, leaving environmental wreckage and GHG emissions in its wake. PittMoss has developed an innovative replacement made from recycled organic paper.

PittMos is experiencing significant demand and growth and is poised to bring its technology to scale across the country and globe. PittMoss soil was recently awarded two spots on the Better Homes and Gardens “top soils” list, including Best Overall.

 The PittMoss Story:

 PittMoss started as a humble kitchen experiment in 1994, and quickly evolved into founder Mont Handley’s passionate, lifelong project. Soon after graduating from the kitchen to the garage, PittMoss secured an EPA SBIR grant. This funded critical growth trials, providing the scientific evidence and the foundation for PittMoss patents.

 Further testing by Agronomy and Horticulture researchers at a major university evaluated:

  • Elemental composition
  • Water and nutrient retention characteristics and aeration capacity
  • Growth of plants cultivated in various PittMoss/peat moss mixes
  • Elemental analysis of PittMoss
  • Leachate testing for various nutrients
  • Elemental analysis of plant matter to determine uptake value

Researchers concluded that PittMoss could be utilized extensively by commercial greenhouses and nurseries at a 50% replacement rate (request the full report). Between 2012 and 2015, PittMoss went through a proof-of-concept phase in garages and small greenhouses on nights and weekends. With a perfected formula that replaced traditional growing substrates 100% in many crop trials, PittMoss sparked the interest of Pittsburgh’s Idea Foundry, an incubator and early stage funder of entrepreneurial businesses. With a little “seed” money and professional mentoring and access to some much-needed resources, PittMoss LLC was on its way.

In 2015, PittMoss was introduced to the investors on Shark Tank, ABC’s favorite reality show for would-be entrepreneurs. Building on the product’s success among commercial growers, PittMoss launched its consumer retail product line.

More information at www.pittmoss.com

Ashley Mariani
(520) 576-0172

About the author

Staff Writer