Kitchen Composter: Zera Food Recycler


May 2, 2017

Whether you garden or not, an indoor kitchen composter makes a lot of sense. It’s the sustainable and earth-friendly way to handle food waste. Unfortunately, your current choices don’t work for everyone, or doesn’t work as advertised. Things are soon to change with the arrival of Whirlpool’s new Zera Food Recycler appliance.

Kitchen Composter

Real compost does not happen when food waste is allowed to stew in its own juices in a compost pot. Fermenting food scraps is not the same, and doesn’t result in true “compost” either.

Worm composting does create an excellent garden soil amendment. But not everyone has time for worms, and they can only consume so much food a week! You also have to be careful what you put in a vermicomposter. Earthworms aren’t maggots. They can’t eat everything that humans do.

Zera isn’t the first electric kitchen composter to come along, but most quietly fade away. The Food Cycle machines you can buy today claim to turn scraps into compost in 3 hours or less… without any additives whatsoever. It’s just a garbage disposal that rapidly dehydrates whatever you dump in. Users report rot and mold once rehydrated in plant containers or garden soil.

It takes more than kitchen waste to make quality compost and natural fertilizer. You need both fresh and dried, fibrous organic materials. Can 30% of what you eat classify as dead or dried fibrous material – like straw, dried leaves, sawdust, and rice hulls? That’s what turns composted kitchen waste from goo to gold. So, the perfect electric indoor composter does require additives.

And the Zera Food Recycler does use additives. The pack contains coconut coir as brown matter and baking soda which alkalizes and oxygenates, and has odor removing properties. But the bulk of odor control is handled by a HEPA filter.

Kitchen Composter

Whirlpool’s WLabs team designed Zera as a convenient appliance for easy kitchen clean up. The appliance is the right height for everyone to reach and can be installed in a slide out drawer if equipped with an electrical outlet. It grinds scraps into small bits for fast breakdown, then maintains the air flow and heat for safe, speedy processing. It turns 8 pounds (3.5kg) of waste into 2 pounds of natural fertilizer in 18-24 hours.

The app-connected kitchen composter won the CES 2017 Best Innovation Award, and recently completed a smash hit IndieGoGo campaign on, with early adopters pledging 827% of the requested funding. Anticipation is running high among those who grabbed early bird specials.

Like the garbage disposal and dishwasher, indoor kitchen composters could become a must-have appliance. Even among non-gardeners, because everyone’s food waste contributes to the landfill and sewage problem. If it works as well as Whirlpool says, it could make garbage disposals obsolete


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Feature image courtesy of Thrifty Good Life, and inline: Whirpool, and Chris Monroe/CNET (respectively).

Tammy Clayton

Tammy Clayton

Contributing Writer at Garden Culture Magazine
Tammy has been immersed in the world of plants and growing since her first job as an assistant weeder at the tender age of 8. Heavily influenced by a former life as a landscape designer and nursery owner, she swears good looking plants follow her home.
Tammy Clayton

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