I started composting when I moved to Seattle last year. I felt very virtuous depositing my banana peels and coffee grounds into a special organic waste bin at the back of my house, but I didn’t get to reap any benefits. Besides, you know, helping the planet.
Those who want to get more bang for their food scraps could consider investing in a HomeBiogas (Ed note: Roommates, I promise I’ll ask you before I buy one.) HomeBiogas LTD just launched a new version of its eponymous closed-loop system which turns kitchen leftovers into cooking fuel and fertilizer. The company started a Kickstarter yesterday, which reached its $50,000 goal in less than two hours. At the time of this writing, the project has raised roughly $170,000.
The HomeBiogas is about the size of a large doghouse and resembles a black bouncy castle. Only instead of letting kids crawl in to play, you fill up the system’s chute with waste materials like food scraps, animal manure, and even, um, human waste, if you’re feeling especially hardcore. Bacteria digest the organic matter to create biogas, which can be used to cook on the countertop biogas stove which comes with each purchase. Two kilograms (or 1.5 gallons) of food waste makes enough fuel for two hours of cooking, with the added byproduct of liquid fertilizer.
According to the Kickstarter page, the new HomeBiogas is easier to put together, fully recyclable, and 30 percent taller than the previous version.
Interested backers can nab a HomeBiogas for the Super Early Bird price of $399. Normally with crowdfunded physical products, we have to issue a warning that hardware is hard, and not all projects make it through the manufacturing process in the estimated time, or at all. However, since HomeBiogas has already shipped over 5,000 of its last-gen systems, it seems pretty safe to assume they’ll be able to deliver on this upgrade.
The question is whether or not you’d actually want to have a sizeable inflatable bacteria factory in your backyard. Admittedly, the HomeBiogas is a pretty extreme solution for the average environmentally-conscious Joe. It’s big, expensive and requires you to be willing to adapt our cooking to a small countertop stove. If you’re looking for a way to turn your food scraps into compost, there are a number of easier, cheaper options out there. HomeBiogas is pretty self-aware, however; its promo video notes that it’s suitable homesteaders and off-the-gridders.
Nonetheless, the HomeBiogas is an inventive way to upcycle home food waste into something of added value. Plenty of companies are upcycling discarded food ingredients into new products, edible or otherwise, but very few are targeting the home. Though it might not be for everybody, especially space-strapped urban consumers, HomeBiogas shows that when it comes from cutting down on food waste, sometimes it pays to think outside the (compost) box.