As concern over growing food waste levels makes mainstream media, consumers are increasingly turning to innovation and technology to help them solve the problem.
In this article, we are going to:
- explain what a FoodCycler (or "electric composter") is
- describe the differences between a FoodCycler and traditional compost
- determine which option would work best for you
First off, why do you need a food waste solution in the first place?
With all the attention given to plastic waste these days, investing in a food waste solution can seem a little besides the point.
However, there is mounting evidence that food waste, and not plastic, is the greater short-term threat to environmental stability.
- produces methane gas, which is 25X worse for the environment than CO2, and up to 85X worse over a 20 year period;
- accounts for up to 50% of all household waste sent to landfills;
- generates leachate in landfills, which can contaminate local water tables;
- accounts for a third of all food produced globally
- wastes the valuable land, water, transportation and labour resources require to generate food
Consumers generate 47% of all food waste, either by throwing away edible waste after purchasing it, or else through processing food before meals. Now, keep in mind that not all food waste is avoidable (ex: uneaten leftovers). Much of the organics sent to landfills are things that cannot be safely (or enjoyably) eaten by humans (ex: peels, pits, skins, bones, etc).
At least 25% of the warming climate is due to methane gas generated by human actions EDF
Because consumers are responsible for a large piece of the food waste pie, it is each and every person's responsibility to manage their own food waste at home. Sending food waste to landfill is no longer a viable option for the planet.
What is a FoodCycler?
FoodCycler is a counter-top compost alternative which reduces food waste volume, weight and odour within a few hours.
To use the FoodCycler, you:
1. Add food waste to the removable waste bucket.
2. Add bucket to the unit.
3. Press Start.
The unit will then go through a series of phases (Heating, Grinding & Cooling) for approximately 4-8 hours. This aerobic digestion process sterilizes, dehydrates and pulverizes food waste until only a small amount of dry powder or flakes is left in the bucket. This material is safe to handle, easy to store and can be used in gardening applications as a fertilizer or soil conditioner.
Is a FoodCycler the same thing as a composter?
No! The FoodCycler is not technically a composter, and the by-product residual - while highly valuable as a fertilizer - is not compost. For any material to be considered compost, it must first be broken down chemically by aerobic or anaerobic bacteria. This bacteria can be found in garden soil and in maturing compost piles.
What's the difference between aerobic and anaerobic bacteria?
|Aerobic bacteria require hotter conditions than their anaerobic cousins, and need a consistent balance of carbon (brown) materials and nitrogen (green) materials to break down organic matter into compost. Want to learn more? Check out our blog post How Compost Works: Get the Dirt on Dirt!|
The FoodCycler is often called an "electric composter" or "indoor composter", but there are several key differences.
How are FoodCyclers different from composters?
Aerobic compost piles (or "hot compost") use the same tools of the trade as FoodCycler - namely heat, air and turning. However, these occur as a result of bacteria actually consuming the food waste in an aerobic environment.
The FoodCycler's aerobic digestion process is a mechanical one: heat and air is applied inside the machine, and metal grinding arms slowly turn and pulverize the organic waste.
Compost is bacteria-rich, and is similar in weight and touch to soil. The FoodCycler's by-product is dry, powdery and completely sterile. To transform your FoodCycler fertilizer into true compost, you must dig it into soil or an existing compost pile in order to "cure" it and allow it to decompose naturally.
Aside from the process and the by-product, FoodCycler and composters are also different in how each fits into your lifestyle:
- composters require regular turning and maintenance
- compost piles are difficult to maintain in certain weather conditions (rain, drought, frost/snow)
- compost piles are situated outdoors, and so require sufficient yard space
- compost piles can attract rodents and other pests
Because FoodCycler is an appliance which runs indoors, it is a convenient alternative to composting for those who do not have the time, space, know-how or physical ability to manage a compost pile.
Which one is better?
Now, that's a very difficult question to answer. Both have their pros and cons, and both offer ways to manage your food waste at home. Some people believe that the FoodCycler's energy use outweighs its potential benefits - but this is untrue. Even in areas where power is generated from "unclean" energy (coal, etc), the diversion of food waste (and associated greenhouse gases) easily outweighs the product's energy use throughout its lifecycle.
Regular use of a single FoodCycler actually generates equivalent CO2 to that of a backyard compost pile in areas with non-renewable energy, and less CO2 in areas with renewable energy.
To help you decide which food waste diversion method is best for you, we've put together a comparison "At-A-Glance" table for you at the end of this article. Keep reading to view!
Which food waste solution should I choose?
Again - a tough question to answer!
That being said, we do have a few scenarios we can share which might help you decide on the best food waste solution for you and your home. Remember, like anything in this world, food waste solutions are not one size fits all. We truly want you to find the best food waste solution for your lifestyle so that we can all join the fight against food waste!
I live in an urban centre with no yard space:
If you are an apartment or condo-dweller, you may want to look into the "electric composter" solution. Units like the FoodCycler are compact, quiet, odourless and energy-efficient. You can process your food waste in a few hours and incorporate the finished by-product into your indoor plants' potted soil.
Don't have indoor plants?
I live in a suburban area with a small amount of yard space:
If you have a small amount of yard space, it's really at your discretion whether you'd like to dedicate a part of that space to housing a compost site. It's entirely feasible!
Compost piles can fit within 1 cubic yard (3' x 3' x 3') and if maintained properly, should not emit odours or attract pests.
If your backyard space is shared, or if you simply don't want to section off a piece of your yard for composting, then you may want to consider smaller-space options, such as worm bins or bokashi.
Alternatively, if composting in general is not something you'd like to try, then perhaps an "electric composter" is the best solution for you. You can run your FoodCycler indoors at your convenience. You can choose transform your by-product into compost after the fact - in a much easier-to-manage format than raw food waste!
I live outside of the city and have access to a large backyard:
The world really is your oyster! With a larger backyard, you can comfortably start a compost pile away from your living space. As long as you are able to maintain the pile, you should not have any problems from rodents or insects.
If you would still prefer to run a food waste solution from the comfort of your home, there is really no barrier to your choosing an "electric composter" - in fact, you could have both and enjoy the best of both worlds!
Process the majority of your food waste indoors with the FoodCycler (which can process a greater variety of foods than a compost pile), and then add the "foodilizer" to your outdoor compost pile! Because the by-product has been reduced in volume, odour and moisture, it will break down much faster under the correct composting conditions than whole food waste.
Note: We recommend not adding by-product that contains significant meat content to your compost pile, as this may alter the delicate chemical balance of your compost system and could cause odours/pests.
FoodCycler vs Compost Piles: At-a-glance