Kitchen scraps composting device costly to run, ‘one of the poorest choices’ eco-conscious could make: Choice

A Breville kitchen appliance that promises an easy way to compost food scraps has been declared “one of the most illogical” ever tested by consumer advocacy group Choice.

The $499 FoodCycler pulverises and dehydrates food waste, turning it into chips that can be added to soil.

Breville says on its website the process can take between four and eight hours, plus 30 minutes’ cooling down time.

The company also spruiks the machine’s low-energy usage and quiet operation, but Choice kitchen expert Fiona Mair said that’s not correct.

“If you’re someone who is environmentally conscious and looking for an easy way to compost your food scraps, this is one of the poorest choices you could make,” Ms Mair said.

Kitchen scraps composting device costly to run, ‘one of the poorest choices’ eco-conscious could make: Choice

Camera IconThe energy-chewing appliance has been declared ‘one of the poorest choices’ eco-conscious people could make. Supplied by Choice Credit: NCA NewsWire

She said the device’s small capacity could only fit about one meal’s worth of scraps at a time, which meant significant running costs adding up to more than $300 a year.

“Our performance tests found that if you ran the unit seven times a week, it would cost you $86 a year in energy running costs,” Ms Mair said.

“You also need to replace the filters every three to four months, which adds up to $159.80 a year.

“The separate bucket lid carbon filter needs to be replaced every six months at a cost of $63.20 per year.

“Any benefits for the environment that you’re producing through using this device are really lessened by the electricity costs, and the contribution you’re making to landfill with the replacement filters.”

She said the “eco chips” produced by the machine had “huge limitations”.

Kitchen scraps composting device costly to run, ‘one of the poorest choices’ eco-conscious could make: Choice

Camera IconThe appliance costs $499, but is estimated to cost more than $300 a year to run, assuming it is used seven times a week. Supplied by Choice Credit: NCA NewsWire

According to Breville’s instructions, a 90-day wait is necessary before using the chips to grow food that comes into direct contact with the soil – such as carrots, lettuces and leafy herbs – to minimise potential health risks.

They can be incorporated into soil around fruit or nut trees or vines at any time, but fallen produce must not be collected off the ground for 90 days after each application.

The 83 reviews for the product on Breville’s website are largely positive, collectively rating 4.6 out of 5 stars, with 91 per cent recommending it to others, although many noted downsides included its high price and small capacity. Many commented on the low-to-no odour of the chips.

Choice also complained about “an irritating, high-pitched sound” emitted intermittently when running.

“The sound the FoodCycler produces while it’s running was so annoying that we had to move it out of the kitchen lab while we were waiting for the cycle to finish,” Ms Mair said.

“You just can’t deal with a noise like that for the four to eight hours it takes to get through a cycle.”

Breville has been sought for comment.

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