Not a Composter, a Breville Foodcycler

Not composting, processing. It would be a good item for Choice to have a look see and report.

The FoodCycler operates an automated program drying, grinding and cooling to reduce food scraps into odourless EcoChips. In as little as 4 hours your household food waste is reduced by over 80% of its original volume.

https://www.breville.com/au/en/products/food-disposal/bwr550.html

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An interesting concept that may be useful in high density housing situations where there are no gardens.

Unfortunately, there is no indication of energy consumption (it may take up to eight hours per cycle), or the cost of the required replacement filters.

I wonder at the costs/benefits when comparing it to an In-sinkerator.

At $500 a pop I don’t think they will be walking off the shelves.

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Now here is a good looking for a purpose. It costs $500, takes 500 W to run (plus replaceable filters) and produces a product Ecochips ™ whose purpose is not specified.

It reduces your “footprint” by 80%. No, you don’t have to buy much smaller shoes, here is what footprint means:

**The volume of the bucket contents may be reduced by over 80% depending on the amount and moisture content of the food scraps being processed.

What is the scope of the material you can put in it? I cannot find that. Does it turn meat scraps into jerky perhaps? If so it ought to have an automatic salting and spicing feature.

I suppose you could dig the residue into the garden. Tell me again why you need to dehydrate it first. You could put it in the garbage, sounds like a very expensive way to reduce the volume of your rubbish.

“Ecochips” and “footprint” sound like greenwashing to me. Save the planet by having an expensive and resource hungry device. Good one Breville.

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Rubbish compactors were once thought to be ‘the thing’ in the USA. While the stats cited are old, the op-ed was updated in 2019. Lots of good points that are probably applicable to the Foodcycler, and it closes with a link about some things not suitable for the Insinkerator ‘option’.

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Even if it was manufactured using zero carbon energy and you run it at home from solar?

It would still be a waste consuming the resources incorporated into it and adding the carbon footprint of all the different sectors of the supply chain pre and post.

If the product has genuine green credentials, it is still diverting what would be substantial low/zero carbon resources away from activities that could deliver much greater benefits to the environment.
EG running the device for just 4 hrs daily would consume approx 700kWh of solar electricity. Alternately that is enough to drive 3-4000km in an EV, or replace approx 1.1t of CO2 emissions from a brown coal fired power station.

Worthy of a Choice Shonky for being the exact opposite of what it promises.

P.S.
Ecochips. Are they best eaten plain or salted?
Neither. They save space in the rubbish bin.
Assume you can reconstitute the waste for use in the garden by soaking overnight in water. Approx 4 litres of water for every 1litre of saved chips?

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I can’t really see a purpose. It uses energy to dehydrate waste. I think it is another one of those products which we don’t really need to have.

I suppose if one didn’t compost and found that their wheelie bin was overflowing between kerbside council collection…then it may have a limited use…otherwise…why.

If it could dehydrate say food and make chips, then this would be something worth considering…but an appliance to dehydrate waste…hhhmmmm…

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For people who don’t have a garden, or are unable to garden - like me. But does make me wonder, could I dehydrate fruit in it?

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It’s an absolute scam and because it subverts real, helpful actions that people and councils can take, Breville are actively contributing to the problem they would have you think you’re solving.

If you’ve bought this, then you’ve been tricked - sorry.

The ecochips haven’t been broken down in a way that’s helpful for your garden. Nor does anything stop them from rehydration when put in your regular bin and still contributing to landfill methane and. All these do is save physical space in whatever location you out them in, first.

If your food scraps bin at home smells, you’re doing it wrong and can fix it :slight_smile: If you’re in an apartment and can’t home compost, then you’re still better off putting it into your council-provided green bin *** BUT only if your council does FOGO.

And perhaps that’s the real problem this device exploits the fact that a number of councils are yet to provide food waste and composting options. You’d be better off applying pressure to your local council member.

I’ve recently come across Compost Connect https://www.compostconnect.org/ which, while in it’s infancy, might become a good network for ratcheting up some market pressure and enabling compost to become more widespread.

But the Fooscycler? An expensive trash compactor that tricks you into feeling good about doing bad. Clever marketing, but poor form Breville.

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The claims that the Foodcycler will reduce methane production when placed in a landfill or produce less than composting aren’t true.

Usually there isn’t methane from any aerobic processing of organic waste at home, such as composting, work farming, trenching.

If the chips are placed in a rubbish bin, they will still create methane when disposed at a landfill, no differently to if they were still hydrated.

There is no methane advantage using the appliance or using/disposing the organic waste by other means.

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It’s a very expensive solution when there are simpler alternatives. Using up to 100kWh of electricity if used once weekly for 4 hrs, the device will add approx 0.08- 0.09 tCO2 from the power it consumes, and $20-$25 to the power bill.

For one more complete view on composting -

Home composting is available to most Australian homes, from simple patio tumblers to outdoor open piles that can be hand turned. It is zero methane, compared to breaking down organic matter in a zero oxygen environment.
EG
Food waste buried in landfill has in the past contributed to methane production. Many landfill sites now reclaim this methane and use it as a bio fuel for heat or power generation. The waste CO2 is balanced by the Carbon needs of the food cycle.

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Not exactly true. If composting is done correctly, then indeed there would be little methane created. That said, not every home has this option. Condo or apartment dwellers are often limited in their choices and the simple reality is not everyone wants to compost, or does so correctly. There are also limitations to what can go in a compost heap, many of which the FoodCycler can handle.

The chips themselves do not emit any methane gas. A study found on the manufacturers website speaks to this and deems the off-gassing to be negligible.

With respect to the energy usage, it is 0.8 kwh or less PER CYCLE, not per hour. Admittedly one could argue that the environmental benefit would be impacted by the amount of renewable power that is being used to power the grid. With that said, the FoodCycler will always be a better option than food waste that is sent to landfill.

I agree with you that there are other options that can be environmentally friendly - this is just another one and I think many have misunderstood it.

I’ve tested the power consumption of my unit and each cycle has come back at less than 0.8 kwh per cycle.

The electricity consumption is comparable to a desktop computer. It only uses 0.8 kWh per cycle, so perhaps a misunderstanding on the consumption for the FoodCycler.

The simple fact of the matter is that composting is not everyone’s first choice. There are certainly other options available to deal with food waste, but the FoodCycler certainly is another great one and checks the box for a lot of folks who aren’t able to use the existing options available today.

Zero/low cost solution in progress.


.

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Having worked and lectured in the field, I can say it is true and no methane would be created. For anaerobic conditions to occur within a domestic/home compost, there needs to be conditions where there is no oxygen. While it is possible to create such conditions in a domestic environment (such as placing organic materials is a bucket of water with a sealable lid or a wet static compost pile where depth of organic matter to atmosphere is about 1.5m), such conditions don’t occur unless one specifically intents to create such conditions.

The making of the chips don’t create methane, no differently to composting, worm farming or trenching (burying organic waste in trenches in a vege patch). As the chips are dried organic material (carbon matrix), if disposed in landfill they will create the same amount of methane and if the material hadn’t been processed by the Foodcycler. If they are used in the garden, they would have similar CO2 contributions as composting, worm farming etc. There is no greenhouse gas advantage of the Foodcycler.

I don’t think this is also the case. 0.8kW for a small amount of material turned into chips. Say it is 2 kg of kitchen scraps. This means for a rubbish truck it would need to use about 500L of diesel per tonne (estimated energy equivalent of 0.8kW per 2kgs) of waste to take the same material to landfill. For a 12 tonne net weight (load rubbish truck), it would use about 6 tonnes of fuel per load. This is fanciful. The truck is likely to use around 100-200L per hour. In an urban environment, it would do a load every hour or two, thus using around 200-400L. The savings of fuel don’t stack up.

I hope that it doesn’t give you some inner green glow, because such is unfounded and is no different (but potentially worse environmentally) to other methods or treatment or disposal. If your use it solely to reduce the volume of waste in your general waste bin (to reduce the term coined by Breville ‘Foodprint’), so you can fit more waste in, then it serves a purpose.

It is interesting they have coined the term Foodprint, which is very similar to the environmental term ‘Footprint’, which is possibly intentional to make it sound eco/environmental…to which it isn’t.

Edit: should also say that the Foodcycle dehydrates the materials which is placed in the mixing chamber. In a lanfill (which the website states ‘Reduce you FoodPrint’…nor not footprint. It also says that the reduction is Footprint is *'The grinding bucket can contain up to 2L of food scraps that would be reduced to 0.34L EcoChips. *. So the reducing the foodprint is about reducing the volume of waste by dehydrating the materials. The term Eco is puffery to give an indication of some environmental benefit…which doesn’t exist.

It also says ‘Foodscraps go from landfill to handfull in just a few hours.’, which indicates that expect the materials to go to landfill. It also doesn’t provide information about using on the garden as a form of soil conditioner of such like which is interesting.

Breville has been very careful in its claims in relation to environmental benefits, which I suspect so that it doesn’t fall foul of the ACCC or Australian Consumer Law. In the US, the claims are different for the equivalent product.

It sole benefit is to reduce volume of waste in the general waste bin. Any environmental benefits claimed on the internet in blogs or elsewhere are not proven by evidence nor that promoted by Breville. If one has a small bin and it overflows every week, the Foodcycle may have merit to reduce one’s Foodprint, otherwise any other claims fall into puffery.

Dehydrating the material does not change the amount of methane generated in landfill. Whether material placed is wet, damp or dry, the damp, humid anaerobic conditions within the landfill allow methane producing bacteria to thrive, thus converting carbon sources into methane. Different materials are more resistant to decomposition - plastic is a good example, but every carbon source will eventually decompose if given enough time.

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The Foodcycler has not escaped the attention of the CHOICE labs - we’ve been putting one through it’s paces and our First Look review is coming this Thursday! We’ll post it here when it drops, and we’d love it if you could share it around.

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As promised, here’s our review:

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We will avoid it like the plague.

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The statement that

It aims to minimise the amount of household food waste going into landfill each week and in turn reduces your contribution to greenhouse gas production

is a furphy if the ‘ecochips’ contents are added to the general waste bin which goes to landfill. As outlined above, the same amount of methane will be produced whether or not the waste has been 'Ecochip’ed as it is the carbon in the waste that causes methane production and not water.

If one uses the ‘Ecochips’ on the garden instead of placing in the general waste bin, then there could be some savings…but over time the contributions to Co2 in the atmosphere could be similar as methane in the atmosphere naturally breaks down (or methane is harvested from landfills to make energy) to CO2, similarly to the decomposition of carbon in the surface of a soil.

If one includes the embodied energy to make the Foodcycle and also its electricity use, currently this will more likely increase one’s CO2 emissions than reduce them.

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The foodcycler, or our review? :wink:

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