CRAM began operating as a wholly-owned subsidiary of ULNA on January 1, 2016. ULNA recognized that it could reduce factory waste and landfill costs by composting the factory’s by-products of dust and unmarketable leaf-scrap and stem, rather than sending them to the landfill.

The project has been highly successful, with more than 4,000 tons of material composted to date, and sales continuing to increase. The initiative is benefiting both the community and the environment, as well as offering customers a high-quality, cost-effective, and environmentally-friendly alternative to the commercial fertilizers that are currently on the market.

CRAM offers a high-quality compost product that provides a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly alternative to commercial fertilizers and animal waste such as poultry litter. Our compost is generated from natural tobacco by-products from Universal Leaf North America’s (ULNA) tobacco-processing factory in Nashville, North Carolina. The dust, grass, stalks, suckers, stem and leaf generated and/or removed during leaf processing at this facility contain valuable plant nutrients, organic matter and trace minerals—all necessary to support agricultural production.

CRAM uses these materials to produce Grade A compost, as defined by the state of North Carolina. Our compost lives up to the high standards of quality and excellence that ULNA requires for all of its products. In fact, we go above and beyond the state requirements for our compost in order to ensure the best quality possible.

The state requires that compost be processed at a constant temperature at or above 131 degrees F for four days and then at a constant temperature at or above 114 degrees F for the next 10 days. At CRAM, we follow a self-imposed requirement that our product also be processed at a constant temperature at or above 140 degrees F for four days. This ensures that any weed and plant seeds that might be found in the waste material are destroyed.

The compost generated at CRAM is a superior product with nutrient levels that are generally higher than those found in most compost. Our compost has five times the levels of potassium typically found in other compost produced in the state. Potassium (or pot ash) helps plants develop strong root systems and fight o􀄘 disease, and also helps with the absorption of other nutrients.

Our compost has been used on test plots containing row crops; pasture (fescue and Coastal Bermuda grass); turf (both turf production sites and athletic fields); highway beautification areas; forest products; and bio-energy crops (sorghum, switchgrass, and rape seed). Crop responses have been outstanding on all sites, matching or exceeding yields obtained using commercial fertilizer.

Although tobacco stem and leaf-scrap material are components of our compost, laboratory study results show no presence of nicotine in our product.

All results are measured and continue to meet state requirements. Data is continually being collected and evaluated through test trials to provide valuable information about the compost product to growers.

CRAM can produce more than 5,000 tons of compost per year.

We currently sell our compost to commercial farmers, landscape contractors, sod turf grass producers, and the North Carolina Department of Transportation (DOT) for roadside beautification projects. Our compost is also available for resale.

Customers can be assured that when they purchase compost from CRAM, not only are they receiving a high-quality product, they are also having a positive impact on the environment. Waste material that would have become part of a landfill will now be recycled for a beneficial outcome.