Most countertop compost bins are just tiny trash cans that don't do anything other than hold food scraps until they end up in a compost pile or green bin outside. Others use electricity to shred up food. A new composter called the Biovessel uses worms instead.
"The entire ecosystem is powered by nature," says Brooklyn Chao, founder of Bionicraft, the Taiwan-based startup that designed the composter. "By using earthworms, the ecosystem with Biovessel is able to decompose waste before fermentation begins."
Because the food scraps don't ferment, they also don't stink. The composter can process up to one kilogram of food a week, enough to keep up with most or all of the scraps in a two- or three-person household. The compost it produces can be fed back into plants.
"We encourage users to grow indoor plants or herbs, instead of buying them, therefore reducing food waste, reusing and recycling the food waste, and turning it back into food again," says Chao.
While other kitchen worm bins exist, the startup has attempted to optimize the design. After 20 months of collecting data, they created an algorithm for the shape, placing the holes in the ideal position to help process food waste. The algorithm also helped reduce manufacturing time and the materials used.
Inside, the shape is designed to keep most of the worms in the upper portion of the soil, working on the food. The outlet hole—where people have to capture worm waste, a form of fertilizer—is designed to make that process as simple as possible.
If people end up throwing out more food than the composter can process, the designers are hoping the Biovessel can help serve another purpose: reminding people to plan better so they throw out less food to begin with.
The composter is crowdfunding on Kickstarter.
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