Whirlpool's Zera Food Recycler turns food scraps into fertilizer

With just the touch of a button.

Nicole Lee, @nicole
January 5, 2017
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    Though several municipalities like San Francisco, New York and Portland have citywide composting services, not everyone can enjoy this luxury. Most people still have to compost their unwanted food the old-fashioned way: by putting it in a stinky composter and going through the labor-intensive process of adding manure, keeping it moist and turning it every so often so that it doesn't rot. Otherwise, all those orange peels and rotten carrots will just end up in the trash. Whirlpool's new Zera Food Recycler, however, could be the solution to that. It's a new kitchen appliance that will turn your food scraps into rich fertilizer with hardly any work on your part at all.

    Gallery: Whirlpool Zera Food Recycler | 5 Photos

    The way it works is pretty simple. Plug it in and then throw all your food scraps into the chute. The only things you can't put in it are bones and pits, because they're too tough for the Zera's blades to cut through. The top of the Zera is also conveniently counter height, so you can just sweep all your leftovers into the bin in one fell swoop.

    From there, just make sure it has a carbon filter installed (this is to reduce odor) and add a plant-based additive to assist in the breakdown process. The additive is made out of coconut husk and baking soda, and it's wrapped in paper so the whole thing should decompose fairly easily. Keep putting in food scraps for about a week and, through a combination of oxygen, moisture, heat and an agitator, you'll get a pile of freshly made fertilizer perfect for your lawn or garden. Plus, there's even a mobile app that lets you operate it remotely.

    The Zera was designed by W Labs, an internal Whirlpool incubator tasked with coming up with unique gadgets for the home. One of its first devices was the Vessi homebrew beer fermenter, which was successfully funded on Indiegogo last year. Similarly, the Zera will launch on the crowdfunding site as well. This isn't to actually raise money for it -- Whirlpool is a pretty profitable corporation, after all -- but more to gain early support for an untested market. Plus, a Whirlpool spokesperson said that it likes hearing from Indiegogo backers on how to improve their products.

    That said, it's pretty expensive. The Zera Food Recycler will retail for $1,199 later this year at select retailers like TreeHouse and Williams-Sonoma. But if you want it cheaper, for a limited time you can purchase it through Indiegogo, where it's selling for a much more reasonable $699.

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