Composting with Style

Sustainability Problem: Food Waste

The US discards ~40% of its food supply every year!  While this is a clear waste of money, natural resources (water, energy, land) and time, there is another detrimental consequence to this issue.  The thrown-out organic waste eventually ends up in landfills where toxic methane gas (CH4) is released as the food breaks down among non-biodegradable trash, adding to global warming crisis.

Sustainability Technology: Whirlpool’s Zera Food Recycler – Quicker & Convenient Composting

Whirlpool has developed a unique appliance called the Zera Food Recycler, which is basically a modern composting machine.  It has the capability to process 8 lbs. of food/food scraps into 2 lbs. of fertilizer within just 24 hours.

Zera uses a rotating, cylindrical blade which breaks the food down bringing forth valuable nutrients for plat growth, its heating and drying functions help remove access moisture, and coconut husks and baking soda are used at the end to thicken the mixture while also reducing the acidity of the end-product.

The homemade fertilizer can be used in home gardens and/or collected by the city/communities to distribute to local farms/city parks/gardens etc.  A point of note is that while the fertilizer is not 100% compost material, it finishes up the composting process after spending 3-4 weeks outside.

The beauty of this appliance is that many issues with traditional composting (i.e. processing time, sorting organic material, and more importantly odors) are virtually non-existent.  It can accommodate ~95% of all organic food waste including meat.  And most importantly it provides the convenience of not having to collect and store organic waste, which is a huge positive factor in convincing consumers to close the food loop.

SOURCES:
“Whirlpool wants you to trash your old composting methods and buy a fancy food recycler” Popular Science, 3/6/2017, Eleanor Cummins 
http://www.popsci.com/whirlpool-compost-zera
“This new gadget promises to transform food scraps into fertilizer in 24 hours” Treehugger, 11/16/2016, Derek Markham
https://www.treehugger.com/gadgets/whirlpools-new-zera-food-recycler-promises-quickly-transform-scraps-fertilizer.html 
“A NEW NRDC REPORT SHOWS THAT AMERICA WASTES 40% OF ITS FOOD” Sustainable America, 10/1/2012, Nicole Rogers
http://www.sustainableamerica.org/blog/a-new-nrdc-study-shows-that-america-wastes-40-of-its-food/

Stakeholders:

  • All global/domestic consumers looking to reduce their impact on the planet
  • Gardeners and Farmers looking to increase the health of their soil
  • Civic governments looking to drastically reduce waste transportation costs
  • Communities that are strengthened through a single social/environmental goal

Technology Implementation & Distribution:

Bring awareness to the target consumers about the consequences of food waste through media and marketing outlets, showing them the importance and benefits of curbing organic refuse and closing the food loop.

Deploy the appliance in select cities/areas for consumer testing, before a full nationwide distribution is attempted (Current test cities are Chicago, Austin, and San Francisco).

Use feedback from initial customer reactions to enhance and/or customize the product for efficient household use, and ultimately reduce the purchasing cost to make it accessible to more consumers.

By: Bhoomi Shah  , Columbia UNI: brs2147

 

In response to Riya’s Transparent Solar Spray Transforms Windows into Watts post:

In addition to increasing the surface area for solar energy absorption, this technology also enhances the efficiency of current silicon solar panels. The film can be sprayed directly on top of an existing silicon solar cell, and since utilizes the blue and green part of the sunlight better than silicon, it theoretically improves the solar cell’s energy production by an additional 5%.

 

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4 thoughts on “Composting with Style

  1. This is great! It would be a wonderful thing to incorporate into a K-5 curriculum. My kids are in a NYC public school that was chosen by the DOE as a pilot for their Zero Waste Initiative (part of PLANYC 2030). I’m going to see if we can incorporate these into a few of the classrooms. It would be a wonderful way to educate the children while simultaneously composting.

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  2. Yes, the price is what got me too, otherwise I was contemplating buying one of my own! Hopefully as the tech for this progresses, and innovation/competition increases, the costs come down significantly. But kudos to you for starting kids thinking about something so important at an early age!

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  3. An exciting technology if the price could be reduced gradually by simplifying the process or cutting out the costs to produce one! Either way, the Zera Food Recycler is an important reminder for people not just in NYC but around the world that food and organic waste is an exigent problem that requires action to reduce it or convert it.

    Like

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