You know what gets gross? The food waste bin on my kitchen counter. Filled with eggshells, coffee grounds and whatever that thing was in back of my fridge for too long, the canister can smell, is hard to clean and even attracts fruit flies in the summer.
Stuttgart, Germany-based Kalea feels my pain, and today launched a crowdfunding campaign for its eponymous home composting appliance. Standing roughly the size of a space heater, the device is pretty straightforward: dump your food waste into the machine and 48 hours later you have a nutrient-rich compost to spread in your yard or garden.
There are two main components to the Kalea. Food is dumped into the upper chamber where it is shredded and its moisture is removed (there’s also a carbon filter to remove odors). This shredded and dried waste, which now has lost 85 – 90 percent of its volume, then drops into the second chamber where the machine creates the optimal temperature, oxygen levels and humidity conditions to turn the waste into compost, which is ready in 48 hours and dropped into a collection tray at the bottom of the machine.
Creating compost at home has traditionally been a tricky process that required enough space to fit something like a backyard drum, as well as time and attention to turn the drum, all while risking attracting rodents.
Because of this complicated process, Kalea isn’t the only company that, well, smells an opportunity making home composting easier. In August Vitamix launched its own countertop compost machine called the Foodcycler. The Foodcycler is smaller than the Kalea, costs $399 and is shipping now.
Though the Kalea can hold more food, the Foodcycler’s lower cost could put pressure on Kalea. Early backers can pick up a Kalea for €399 (~$470 USD), with the device shipping at the end of next year. When it hits retail the price of the Kalea will jump to €899 (~$1,061 USD).
As with any hardware crowdfunding project, backers should proceed with caution as there is a difference between making a prototype and making an appliance at scale. One thing going for Kalea, however, is that in addition to developing this device for 2.5 years, the company has also received strategic investment from the industrial cleaning giant, Kärcher, so it has received outside backing for its vision.
I, however, am still left with the vision that is my countertop food bin.