More of us are aware of the need to compost—but awareness does not necessarily translate into action. The reasons for not composting vary: no citywide composting program like that of Seattle’s or San Francisco’s; having no clue how to start; others just hate the smell and mess. Sometimes those green bins accept kitchen scraps, but such disposal can result in a nasty-gram from the local garbage company.
Nevertheless, composting food and yard waste is crucial for waste diversion. Green waste creates about 25% of all municipal solid waste in the United States; the Environmental Protection Agency suggests that up to 97% of kitchen scraps are sent to the landfill. The results: disappearing landfill space and greenhouse gases, especially methane, which some suggest is more harmful to the planet than carbon.
Coloradan Gail Loos believes she has found a solution. She created the GreenCycler, a device that grinds kitchen scraps into a size that speeds up the composting process. The contraption works a lot like a paper shredder. Loos redesigned the blades so they could grind food waste effectively, and the user can also easily remove those blades for cleaning. The storage container boasts a design that promotes evaporation while discouraging any increase of pests and anaerobic activity. A carbon filter on top reduces odor, and there is also room for biodegradable waste bags into which the waste can sit until it is time for a deposit into the green bin or outdoor compost heap.
The result is an expedited composting process. A reduction in the size of kitchen scraps means more surface area, which provides more room for bacteria to do their necessary work. As anyone who has watched that egg carton or banana leaf marinate in their compost heap could tell you, larger pieces take longer to disappear. Chopping all that waste into smaller scraps can triple or quadruple the speed at which green waste transforms into nutrient-rich compost.
The GreenCycler premiered at the San Francisco West Coast Green Conference last weekend. Loos expects the unit, which can rest on the counter or tucked into a cabinet, to be ready for retail within a couple months. She is also snaring attention from manufacturers who are intrigued with building a prototype for restaurant and business use.
Loos was inspired by her experience as a full-time mother of two, which she balances while running her own marketing agency. She had composted for 20 years, but was tired of food processing scraps, storing them in ceramic crocks, and then of course, dealing with the mess.
She may have hit a gold mine as more municipalities consider mandatory composting, and gardening surges in popularity. Easier composting means more scalable composting.