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Combating wasted food with a new countertop composter

| March 13, 2014

What’s on your kitchen counter? A toaster? A coffee maker? A mini, automatic countertop composter? If we lost you at that last one, stay tuned — if the folks behind a company called Food Cycle Science have their way, their product will soon turn composting into a mainstream activity.

Food Cycle Science’s new gadget is called the Food Cycler. The Food Cycler’s claim to fame is that it can turn just about any food scraps into safe, sterilized organic compost — in a matter of three hours.

From indiegogo.

The Food Cycler. From indiegogo.

If you’re a backyard composter, your ears definitely perked up at that time frame. Most food scraps take months to properly develop into compost in a typical backyard bin. The Food Cycler claims to do it in about the time it would take you to watch one of the Lord of the Rings movies.

While the Food Cycler isn’t the only automatic composting machine on the market, it has a few features that the inventors hope will increase the chances of it becoming ubiquitous in homes around the world.

For one, the speed is unprecedented. Another standout feature of the Food Cycler is its ability to sterilize and deodorize food scraps during the composting process. Those of us with miniature kitchen composting bins under our sinks understand the value of that deodorization!

The Food Cycler is also only one cubic foot, which is in line with the size of many countertop appliances. Despite its small stature, the Food Cycler can tackle some big challenges, including chicken and fish bones and even a McDonald’s hamburger. (I’ll take their word for it.)

Regardless of what you stuff inside, it’ll end up more or less the consistency of coffee grounds after three hours. Since the product is sterilized, you can take the compost right out to your yard and sprinkle it on plants or work it into the ground to enrich the soil.

Food Cycle Science recently kicked off an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign for the Food Cycler in hopes of attracting attention and funds. Adele Peters of Co.Exist by Fast Company reports that the folks at Food Cycle Science believe their product “might offer a viable alternative to the need to create new municipal composting programs.”

Composting is prohibitively difficult for many people, either due to lack of space or lack of a pick up and haul-away program.

While the Food Cycler combats the carbon footprint and infrastructure needed for a municipal program — and the time and stench undertaken with a backyard program — it’s not without drawbacks of its own. For starters, it is estimated that the Food Cycler will cost $399 to $499. It also requires quite a bit of energy — perhaps as much as a dishwasher might use over the course of a month.

So, yes, the Food Cycler requires both energy and funds to operate. Then again, it is estimated that we throw away 25% of the food in our refrigerator. Why not recycle some of that waste into rich soil that can be used to grow more food?

It would be interesting to see a side-by-side comparison featuring the environmental impact of throwing away food scraps, using a Food Cycler, composting in the back yard, and participating in a municipal program, respectively.

The first Food Cyclers are expected to be made available in North America in May.

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Category: Blog Landing Page, Electronics

About the Author ()

Ellen Hunter Gans has been writing for RecycleReminders since the blog’s inception. She is passionate about words, new media and, of course, recycling.

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