For years I’ve hoped that someone will bring back the BioStack compost bin. Now I’m doing something about it. And I need your help.
Last week, after posting a YouTube Live video about composting, several people asked where they can get the compost bins shown in the video. The Smith & Hawken BioStack Compost Bin dropped out of production when Smith & Hawken closed back in 2009. Miracle-Gro bought the company and then sold it to Target. Target still holds the patents and the molds to manufacture the compost bin again, but they aren’t doing anything with it. That needs to change right now.
Sign the Petition to Bring Back the BioStack
Let’s face it, most compost bins suck. They have a little door at the bottom (that usually falls off at some point) as the only access to finished compost, and they’re usually too small to hold enough mass to generate heat. Most bins aren’t designed to allow gardeners to turn a pile either. The BioStack solved all of these problems way back when, and No One has attempted to replicate it.
As of this morning, I have 99 signers. Please add your name to bring back the world’s best compost bin. If you’ve already signed it, please share it with your crowd. We’ll be doing the world a favor.
People have asked me for years, “What’s the best compost bin?” My answer has always been the BioStack. Compost experts in the gardening community have all signed this petition. Help me get thousands of signatures to bring back the BioStack.
This Post Has 117 Comments
I have 3 of these. I have used them for over 20 years. I would like more, and I live in the SF East Bay area. email email@example.com
I am looking for the Biostack compost bins, I will buy 1 or 3.
Some of the posts are older so wanted to see if any bins are available for sale.
Please let me know firstname.lastname@example.org
I have 3 complete bins with lids never used for sale. we purchased and my wife health prevents her from gardening.
i would sell to someone that needs them. We are in the kansas city missouri area.Call me @818 668 3922 thanks dave
Are your composting bins still available?
We’re in Los Angeles looking for a second bio stack and I’m willing to travel a bit to pick one up. Message me if you have one please. 4083573939
Annie do you still need a BioStack? I’ve got one in Sacramento for sale. Wendy
Hi Wendy, I’m also in Sacramento and would love to buy your biostack!
I tried calling your number and it went to California. Is there another way I can reach you? If not my number is 208-419-5239. Thanks,
Has anyone tried this system?
SQUEEZE master XXL Large Compost Bin Outdoor- 720L /190 Gallon-Easy Assembly-No Screws-BPA Free-Sturdy& Durable-Green Door https://a.co/d/haUl934
IT looks like once it’s assembled the layers are connected with some kind of bolt. Hard to tell and the video doesn’t show someone using it in a stackable way once filled.
I have in my backyard sitting, i would like to make use of it or sell it.
How does it work? any mices/rodents?
I in San Leandro, CA.
You have a gold mine in your backyard if you have a BioStack. Stack up the frames, put on the lid, add compost ingredients. Water them well. Then when you want to turn the pile, take off the lid, set the top frame down on the ground next to the bin and shovel the compost into the frame that you just set down. Repeat with the second frame and the third until your entire bin is moved to the new location. Then put on the lid. It’s the best compost bin out there! I wouldn’t sell mine for all the gold in the world.
Do you still have this? Would you like to sell it? I am in San Diego
do you still have it? I have one but want another.
Hi Mei, do you still have your Biostack compost bin and wish to sell it? I’m in the Northbay, looking to purchase one and can come pick it up. Best way to contact me is text (or call): (707)338-8575.
Stumbled upon this post looking for a picture – I have a 3 tier S & H biostack composter with lid in great shape to sell! I live in CA in the SF East Bay. Will ship if you are willing to cover the cost.
I need your biostack
HI, sorry, I lost the thread and just found your message. Are you still interested? I have several others also but would rather avoid shipping if possible.
Is your biostack still available? I’m in SF Bay area too, and could pick up!
Rhonda, it is still available! I’m selling it for $75 and would love it if you could pick up. Please let me know if you still interested.
Do you happen to still have the BioStack available?
Yuki – it is available still. Please email me if still interested. email@example.com
do you still have your biostack?
My BioStack has sold locally. Thanks for hosting my comment. I’ll sign the petition for future users to hopefully be able to enjoy this bin.
I have a 3 Tier Smith & Hawkens BioStack FOR SALE in Garden Grove, CA. It’s been collecting dust since I’m in an Apartment & I don’t have the space to compost with this bin. You can tell it’s “all-weather” & built to last.
E-Mail Marilyn at firstname.lastname@example.org if interested.
If I was still in California I would take you up on at least one. But we are now in Oregon. We have one, but it would be great to have a second.
I have a S+H Biostack (4 tiers, with lid) that we no longer need. If anyone can use it, I am located near Haverford, PA.
Hello, is the Biostack still available? Are you willing to ship it to Dallas, TX?
It’s still here, but it’s too big for me to ship.
If you still have the Biostack Composter, I’d be interested in it. Please let me know if it’s still available.
Crossing my fingers!
I have one to sell, do you still need one? I’m in CA SF East Bay.
Yes I have it. Totally free in Haverford PA
I am interested! I live in Ohio and am willing to drive to pick it up! I know it’s been some time, but I just found this thread. Please let me know is you have it or got rid of it (so I can keep looking). Thanks!
I gave it away last year to a township in NJ that ran a compost program. Good luck!
Just checking in on the status of the petition, I just finished spreading the word to garden communities, organizations, family, and friends. Came back and finished reading the comments here, if the patent has expired what is the likelihood of this getting manufactured again?
Thanks for sharing this petition, Rita. We recently looked into the status of the patents and they are still active until next year’s renewal date, registered to Target.
Christy / Rita: I am willing to manufacture this composter here in NC. Having a history of personal and professional experience with over 60 home composting systems, this one was definitely in the top 5 regarding quality. It is frustrating that the BEST ones are the units that tend to disappear from the marketplace. It appears that the patent has expired. I have no problem fronting the funds to fabricate the molds for this (2 molds needed: 1 for the body piece, one for the lid piece). I think it would make more sense from a carbon footprint standpoint to find out if the original molds still exists and if the owner is will to sell it. We would probably have to retool it, given the number of production cycles that it has seen. That is my guess as to why this is no longer being made: mold issues. Karl 949-933-1625
Wow, Karl, what an offer! Last I checked Target still held the patents but with a little more digging that can be confirmed. And I love the idea of making this in the USA, and seeing it back in production. Let’s put our heads together and see how to make this happen.
I’m in San Jose, CA and have a Biostack I’m looking to sell. Email if interested: email@example.com
How much do they go for because I have one as well and am not sure what asking price should be.
If memory serves, they used to go for around $120 or so back in the day. But shipping will make that price less appetizing. The City of Los Angeles was selling them for $45 when they were available through their compost bin class sales. So I think if you went for somewhere in between you’ll get interest. To me they are priceless.
I would buy this if still available. nancybrown33@ yahoo. com
Hi Brittainy, do you still have your Biostack compost bin to sell? I’m in the Bay Area and if you are in the area also I could pick up. Best way to reach me is texting: (707)338-8575.
Here I am, looking at my two biostack bins and just wishing that I could purchase two more. Thank you for starting the change post! Have you reached out directly to Target corporate?
The petition is directed to Target’s president, so results are automatically sent there. Since the petition didn’t make the splash I was hoping for, it may have been ignored. With all the new interest in gardening, they really should bring it back.
I am mass sending this out to all my garden people, in hopes of reaching the goal and more! Thanks for starting this!
I won my Biostack back in the 80’s when I was in high school:) It has been with me ever since. With all this time on my hands I have thrown myself back into gardening. My children got a little too enthusiastic and sadly broke the Biostack lid (really broke it)… it had been exposed to light and the elements for 30+ years!!! I would do anything for a new one, or really and old new lid to be honest. Just putting it out there:) We are in LA if anyone happens to know of any parts… I did my due diligence… Craigslist, eBay etc already. Thanks… Great Blog!
Oh No! A broken lid! I fell for you, Jody. At least the rest is still functioning. Keep your eyes peeled and use a tarp in the meantime.
When did Miracle Grow (Scott’s) sell the patent? At least that would signal some activity. I’ve been writing to Scott’s for a few years to suggest that they offer this coveted compost bin.
It was years ago, but I don’t recall the exact year. There has been no movement on the issue. Someone did suggest that the patents have expired by now. With a chunk of change someone could bring them back into production.
Gardner’s Supply now has a stacking compost bin.
Ergo Quadro Stacking Raised Beds are tailored for raised planting beds, but can be used for composting.
ERMAGERD! That’s amazing. It’s the first thing I’ve seen in awhile that might actually replace the BioStack. The large square size is ideal for a compost bin. I’ll need to verify that the layers stay separate and stack without hardware attaching them to each other, but it seems like a viable option. You need to order at least 3 sets to make a compost bin, so that brings the price up. But still worth it if you can finally have a compost bin that works well. Thanks for posting this, Aaron.
Pingback: YouTube: Your Composting Questions Answered - Gardenerd
If I understand correctly… the 1991 patent has long expired, and shouldn’t be a barrier to another manufacturer.
Good to know, Brian. I’ll have to double check on that.
Brian is from Keep Calm. Looks like he is the only person of 13,000 to respond. I have a feeling only a tiny percentage of group members ever look at posts.
Thanks for the link. It looks like the patent was expected to expire in 2011, 20 years after the application was filed (which is the norm for a utilty patent, according to the USPTO web site). I’m not sure I understand the final history entry, “2020-03-19 Application status is Expired – Lifetime,” but here is my guess: The status as of today, 3/19/20, is that the patent is permanently expired (as opposed to being expired because of patent maintenance fees not being paid, with the possibilty of reinstatement once the fees are paid).
So, it doesn’t matter at this point who held the patent in 2010, when it was assigned to Target Brands Inc., Minnesota. What may matter is that it costs money to tool up to produce the Biostack, and as soon as someone does and it proves popular, it’s likely that 4 other Chinese companies will spring up with lower production costs (and most likely lower quality) to compete on Amazon, eBay, and AliBaba. It’s probably not a winning business proposition without patent protection.
Hi, Christy. I admire your courageous statement that most compost bins suck. I agree! I like Geobins and Gardener’s Supply Wire Bins. I soup up the latter per http://www.leavetheleaves.com/properbin.shtml.
What do you think of the elevated rotating drums? I say they all suck, too.
Rob, I agree that most tumblers suck as well. They’re never big enough and there is no direct soil contact (for microbial inoculation).
I think attaching wire mesh to the bottom of each Biostack module would be an improvement. That way the bottom stuff is not getting crushed by the top stuff, and as each module’s contents settled an air pocket above it is created.
I thought that was the greatest until I came up with something even better, something that do not think can be topped. My mind is racing trying to figure out manufacturing and marketing plans. I have only used it once so far and may be able to tweak it latter getting more familiar.
Rob Dentremont aka The Pile Pro
What do you think of my bin in the link above? It is 16 cubic feet, and I do not believe the 27 cubic foot rule. I believe compost should be made in batches, and 16 ft3 is a big batch. Notice I compost on a slab, which I find makes a better (no mud) surface than soil. Life finds its way in.
I had one that worked well for me in Illinois in the late 1990’s, the Troy Bilt (Garden Way) E-Z Spin Composter. The drum was black plastic, probably either polyethylene or polypropylene; thick single wall, reinforced with 3 steel rods (and the axis on which it turned was also a steel rod), and held 82 gallons (11 cu ft), so less than the conventional wisdom says is the minimum size to make compost, but large for a tumbling composter. It was very sturdy. I think I tossed some dirt in the first time or two that I used it; plus, my guinea pig litter went in there for pretty much every batch, as well as weeds that I pulled by the roots — so, no shortage of microbes. It made great compost for me and was a convenient height to load and unload.
I currently have two Lifetime 80 gallon tumbling composters that I got on Craig’s List, here in southern California. They are not quite as robust as the Troy Bilt was, but are comparable overall for convenience and of a similar capacity. They are holding up fine after I replaced the rusting spin hardware with stainless steel and drained out the water that had collected inside the double-walled panels while with their previous owners. In California, I have to be careful to watch moisture content more than I did in Illinois, but these make good compost, too.
I also like wire bins. I have mostly used them for storing raw materials until I have time to chip/shred them, or until I have space in the tumbling composter to finish them off.
Nothing compares to my Biostack, though. I wish I had more of them. I signed the petition last year when I saw it, but I don’t have high hopes for its resurrection due to the expiration of the patent.
I posted the petition to Facebook groups Keep Calm and Make Compost and Home Composting. 13,000+ total members worldwide maybe some will sign.
Geez, thanks so much! I hope it gets some traction.
I have three(3) of the biostacks. It is nice to cycle my waste through one at a time while allowing the other two to decompose. I shift the compost so worms are returned to the newest bin of compost. This significantly accelerates the process. When a bin is empty I hose it out and clean all the screws and nuts on the bottom pan. I had the first one ever break from rust. I would like to be able to easily buy these nylon screws and nuts. I have a workable solution but not perfect.
I have 7 compost bins and these biostacks are the best.
Glad to hear you love your BioStack, Chuck. Be sure to sign the petition if you haven’t already. The model I have doesn’t have a bottom pan, nor any screws or nuts. It’s just open to soil on the bottom. It works great, so if yours break, you’re still good!
I signed the petition previously. Just checking around internet to see if anything comparable has been developed. Mine is old–have had it for 20+ years and is beginning “decompose”. I love it. Have the ends duck taped on one stack because they have become brittle and breaking. 🙁 would love to find another one!
You might want to connect with Pat Sapunor, who posted about having 2 up for grabs.
Mine is open to the ground too, Christy! The hinged lid on mine just broke (beyond repair, I think). I originally bought this in 1992, so it’s been an amazing and well-used product.
Oh, got it! We need more Biostacks in the world!
I have 2 biostack smith@hawkins compost bins I will donate (spouse passed away and am scaling back).I’m in walnut creek, ca.
Hi Pat, I know this is a long shot, but if you still have those biostack bins…I’d love them! I’m in Berkeley and could pick up from you. Let me know.
another long shot; I need a biostack and can’t find replacement. Message me….
I have been periodically looking for this for years. I have so loved mine and would love to have another. Agreed this was the best on the market. Signed your petition and will share.
Thanks so much! We really appreciate it.
I have one that I got in 2004 or 2005 through Alameda County I think, at a discount. I have loved it and taken it with me every time I moved, even when I wasn’t able to use it. I’ve wanted to get a second one, but haven’t been able to find it. It sure would be nice if it were still (or again) available.
I hope this works. We seem to have inherited a biostack and it now needs some repairs/replacement of parts.
Thank you for doing this! I had a Bio-Stack for years, and had to leave mine behind when I moved. I miss it dearly – no other compost bin is as good as the Bio-Stack was (and I’ve tried a few!).
I have signed the petition and am crossing my fingers. FWIW, if anyone can get or use the patent and re-manufacture, I would gladly contribute to a kickstarter for this. I believe in the Bio-Stack! And I hate my current, non-Bio-stack, bin.
We have two of these compost bins and love them, but they have come apart and we can’t find instructions for reassembling them (my husband took them apart to move them and we can’t figure out how to put them back together). I am signing this petition – the binds are great and still look new – but could use some help in reassembling the two we have, please?
Hi Karen, thanks for signing the petition. Assembly is hard to describe, but fairly straight forward. The panels that form each frame snap together in the corners like puzzle pieces (the outside edge will be relatively flush all the way around, the inside edges have protrusions). The frames stack on top of one another with the corner notches facing up. The lid sits on top of the corner notches. I hope this helps.
Just buy a Soil Saver. Same basic design and many counties sell them for $35
Thanks for the suggestion. Does the Soil Saver stack in layers or is it one unit? From what I can tell the Soil Saver is one piece (or maybe 2, I can’t tell). That’s the major difference in design between most compost bins and the BioStack, which has 3 separate layers that can be easily stacked to turn a bin.
I inherited one.
Q. How does stacking help turn the bin? If you remove 1 or 2 layer the composting material will fall out as you turn the pile. Maybe what you mean is that as things finish composting and shrink you can remove the top stacks and have a lower bin which is easier to turn and manage.
Q. BTW do you the plastic thing holes at the bottom to prevent rodents/gopher from coming in?
Q. Is there a way to harvest from bottom stack while the top layers are composting- there is bin like that
which has a grilled layer between stacks that allow the compost to fall through an to be harvested from bottom.
Hi Sanjay, the way the Biostack works is that it is just 3 frames on top of one another. There is no floor, it is open to soil. My understanding is that some of them were sold with a layer on the bottom, but I’ve never seen it. In the best circumstances, the bin should have direct soil contact to invite beneficial soil microbes into the compost.
The way it works is that if the bin is full, you select a patch of ground next to the bin and start shoveling the top of the pile on to the ground next to the bin, then when the contents of the bin is low enough, you move the first frame to surround the pile and continue filling it. Repeat with the second frame on top of the first. Then when you get to the third layer, that is where most of the finished compost will be and you can harvest it from there. Then place the third frame on top of the second in the new location and put on the lid. You’ve just turned your pile, aerated the contents and harvested the finished compost at the same time. Other compost bins don’t allow this functionality. That’s why it’s so great.
Best bin I have. Could use 3-4 more!
We’ve used a biostack compost bin for fifteen years. It’s the best I’ve seen or used, and it’s a tragedy that it’s no longer produced. Sturdy, fits together easily and makes ‘turning the compost pile’ a snap.
Bring back Biostack!
Jen, I’m in San Jose. What are you asking?
Has anyone approached Target to ask if they’d be prepared to sell the patent and for how much? Sarah
This compost is the best I really want to purchase a few more
Can someone give insight into why this one was the best, compared to standard composters? I see these for sale (used) from time to time. Many thanks!
The design of this compost bin allows a person to turn a pile without climbing inside the thing. You take off the lid, and take the first frame off the top of the bin, and set it down next to the compost bin. Then start shoveling the compost from the bin into the frame you moved. You repeat this until you’ve stacked the second frame on top of the first, and most of the contents of the bin is moved over. What remains in the first bin is the finished compost that you can easily access to sift and use in the garden. Most bins have a silly door at the bottom that you have to reach in to pull out finished compost while the unfinished gunk cascades down on top of you. Aeration is the key to successful compost and most bins only allow you to stir the ingredients around rather than turn the pile (and aerate it properly). The 3-level stacking design makes that easy.
I had 3 biostacks—2 I donated before the went out of production. I’m keeping the last. However, as I work with schools, they would be the best for them as well. They’re the best teaching tool (“inside out and upside down).
Definitely a market for them!
I have one BioStack unopened in the box.
Email me firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you still have this??
I am in CA.
I’m in Northern California and have one to sell.
hi jen ~ i’m in san anselmo, and my old biostack is warped ~ i’d love a new one ~ is yours still available?
I live in Dallas, TX and have a Smith and Hawken Biostack that I can no longer use. I would like to sell it and find it a good home if anyone lives nearby. I purchased it several years ago and it’s slightly discolored, but it has held up well.
Thanks for posting, Kathryn. Hopefully you’ll find a taker here. If not, I recommend posting to Craigslist. Lots of people are searching for Biostacks there.
If I want to restart the production myself, I have some connections who can build this for us.Do you know how I can proceed with that? what kind of research and where to start from?
thanks for your help,
YES! Make it happen. I don’t know anything except that Target holds the patents. You should try contacting them to see if they will sell them to you.
How much do you want for it? Can you ship it?
I’m not sure what to ask for it, but I’m sure shipping would be very expensive. What state do you reside?
You’re right, shipping would be really high. I’m in California. I’m currently using an EcoStack from Gardener’s Supply and it is similar to BioStack.
I’m in Garden Grove, CA & I’m listing my BioStack for sale. Email me if interested:
I could possibly ship? All 4 wide pieces of every tier pieces break down & snap back together. I could break it down & squeeze it into a larger box. I could inquire with the post office about shipping it, if interested.
Are you still selling this? In Dallas and interested
I had one of these when I lived in the USA and loved it. I now live in the UK and wish I had brought it with me. I can’t find a compost bin half as good anywhere on-line. What are Target saying about bringing it back into production? Thank you, Sarah
With only 250-ish signatures, they haven’t responded. I had hoped to reach about 10K people, so please spread the word and hopefully we’ll get their attention.
I, luckily, just acquired a Biostak composter that had been in a backyard filled with rich compost for 40 years. I think I found a good place to locate it in my yard, but I cannot figure out how I can (eventually) get the rich soil from the bottom of the bin. Before i put much in it I need to know how I can open a bottom section! Help!!
I am so bummed to hear the BioStack is no longer being used. I recently moved and left my BioStack (that I had had for almost 20 years!) behind because I was too lazy to empty it. Now I wish I had brought it with! Another problem with the current ones on the market – they don’t come with a plastic tray to place the form on…I loved how the BioStack came with two. It really facilitated transferring the pile. You could tell that the BioStack was actually designed by somebody who composted!
I feel the same. Please sign the petition and share it with everyone you know who gardens. Really appreciate the help spreading the word.
I have 3 bio stacks. I found them used and would love to buy several more. They are the only sensible composters available.
Im a new composter with an old, and I hear wonderful, Biostack!
I have it put together but don’t see any way to open a bottom piece for getting out the compost … one day.
That’s the beauty of the Biostack, Becky. There is no insipid door at the bottom. You take off the lid and the top frame. Set the top frame down next to the bin to create a new location for your compost pile. Shovel the contents of the bin into the first frame in its new location. Then repeat with the middle frame (set it on top of the first one in the new location) and then you will have access to the finished compost at the bottom of the third frame. Turning like this facilitates faster composting and gives you open access to all the good stuff at the bottom without wrestling with a door that never closes properly.
i have 3 complete bins never used
call me 816 668 3922 thanks dave
Sounds like a good compost bin. Would like to have one in my small backyard.