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5 Reasons NOT to Buy an Electric Kitchen Composter

Wondering if you should buy a Lomi kitchen composter, a Vitamix FoodCycler electric composter or any other kitchen composting appliance to compost your food scraps at home? Read on for more information about these supposedly sustainable kitchen appliances and if an electric composter might make sense for you.

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Vitamix FoodCycler and Lomi electric composters on the counter in a home

Let’s jump to the chase. Should you buy an electric kitchen composter? No. I’m sure there are a handful of people who will find it particularly useful and worth their investment. But for the majority of people, an electric kitchen composter is a waste of money, more greenwashed than green, and is not the best way to compost at home.

How I tested kitchen composters

Once upon a time, I bought a FoodCycler FC-50. A few months later I bought a Lomi machine through crowdfunding that arrived at my house approximately 13,728 days later (maybe not that many, but it felt like it). I kept both of these electric composters for more than a year, And after testing them for several months to judge their usefulness and environmental benefits, I literally never used them.

Even though I had both of these kitchen composters, I would never recommend someone buy both of them. While they might each claim to have some unique qualities, they’re basically the same thing. Please don’t believe the hype that one should replace the other. I bought them both specifically so I could try them out, use each of them, and compare them in an informed manner for the blog.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve gotten SO many questions about whether or not it’s worth it to buy a Lomi or a FoodCycler (or the latest version of the trending electric composting solution), which one is better, and how they work. More recently, I’ve received questions about a Mill membership as well. In all cases, tech investors seem to hope to capitalize on growing sustainable living trends and continue to iterate on a product (the kitchen composter) that’s just not a good food waste solution for the masses.

More reasons not to buy an electric composter

I had grand plans to write a comprehensive review of the Lomi. I already wrote a review of the Vitamix FoodCycler. I’ve also taken a dive into the carbon emissions from running the machine to consider one reason why an electronic compost machine may or may not be worth it. I ended up not writing a full review of the Lomi and wrote this post instead. I truly don’t believe kitchen composters make sense for most people, and I don’t want people spending hundreds of dollars on a greenwashed product they won’t really use.

Furthermore, I’ve shared all the ways you can (or cannot) use Lomi dirt or FoodCycler Foodilizer. Take a peek at the post and you’ll quickly see I’m not a huge fan.

If you’re contemplating an investment in an electric kitchen composter, there are several things to consider before spending money on this supposedly eco-friendly kitchen appliance. Let’s break it down (see what I did there). 😉 We will start with two common questions and dive into more detail about reasons not to buy a kitchen composter below.

Does a kitchen composter work?

It depends on how you define “work”. The Lomi and FoodCycler both functioned well for the most part, in a very literal sense. They dehydrated and ground up food waste into… dehydrated food grinds (big surprise). So they technically work.

But do they compost? No. Electric composters don’t actually compost food waste. More on this below about using the output from kitchen composters.

Is an electric kitchen composter worth it?

Quick answer: probably not.

I think nearly all people will be best off saving their money and not making this large financial expenditure that is also pretty large itself. (It takes up a seriously solid amount of counter space, especially for something designed with apartment dwellers in mind.)

5 Reasons Not To Buy an Electric Composter

I’m sure there will be a handful of people for whom an electric composter makes sense. I’d be silly to suggest I know with certainty that no one should buy it. But I do think the ideal audience is pretty small. Before you spend your money, consider these 5 reasons not to buy an electric composter.

woman with Lomi kitchen composter and Vitamix FoodCycler machine on a table in front of her

1. It’s Hard To Use the Output from Kitchen Composters

On the surface, the story of electric composting sounds quite appealing. We imagine sprinkling the “finished compost” on houseplants and vegetable gardens. Doesn’t it sound romantic?

But this isn’t how it actually works. The output from electric composters like the Lomi and the Vitamix FoodCycler isn’t actually finished compost. For the most part, it is dried-out, ground-up food scraps.

a handful of food waste output from Lomi electric composter
a handful of food waste output from Lomi electric composter

Vitamix FoodCycler Foodilizer

The FoodCycler is pretty forthcoming about the finished product. The company discloses that the output, called Foodilizer, needs to rest in bare soil for several weeks before adding around plants to be effective. Essentially, the microbes in the soil need to “compost” (i.e. process and digest) the dried-out, ground-up food scraps before they become soil nutrients, much like the process of regular composting.

handful of output from Lomi kitchen composter using LomiPods
handful of output from Lomi kitchen composter using LomiPods

Lomi “Compost”

The Lomi kitchen composter claims to create a finished compost equivalent when you use their LomiPods (at least this is how I interpret their messaging). I made several batches of finished products from the Lomi with and without the LomiPods. The LomiPods make something more similar-ish to finished compost, but it’s a far cry from the nutrient-rich soil amendment that’s the output of well-managed composting.

Mill Food Grinds

The Mill (and its corresponding membership), one of the newest additions to the greenwashed kitchen composter market I’ve seen, does not even call the product a composter. They call it a “kitchen bin” though it’s marketed as a food waste solution to serve the same effective purpose as other kitchen composters.

I credit them with the transparency of language; none of these machines are actually composting anything. And they’ve recognized that the output is useless enough to customers that they chose to set up their offering as a service to ship the food grinds to chicken farms.

But the fact that they think shipping our household food waste through the mail to chicken farmers around is the “optimal environmental solution” for this output should be a good indication that it’s really hard for most everyday people to use it in any meaningful way.

Electric Composter Output Needs Time To Cure

No matter which of these electric composters you use, outputs need some time to cure in bare soil. Lomi might dispute this but I don’t believe them. Just look at the finished products.

containers of six outputs from electric kitchen composters
containers of six outputs from electric kitchen composters (Lomi and FoodCycler processing cycles)

Electric Composter Output is Not Compost or Soil Amendment

Do you really intend to sprinkle any of those on your everyday houseplants? Surely these outputs have some nutrients in them that eventually could benefit the soil, but it’s not a simple one-step process to actually use the output from electric composters.

Furthermore, these all still smell like food. A scratch-and-sniff screen would be great right now, but the technology isn’t quite there yet. Believe me when I tell you that these each have a slight odor that I don’t think would bode well sitting on top of indoor houseplant soil.

Most People Can’t Use the Output from the Kitchen Composters

Even if people can use it on houseplants or gardens (if they have a space for it to cure), how much do they really need? At some point, haven’t they “fertilized” everything enough for a while? Those who have large gardens could like use all the output. But if you have a large garden, there are far better ways to compost than using a low-volume processing machine in your home.

I’ve asked several people who have these machines how they use the output. Very few people have great answers. There are far more stories that end with “well… sometimes I compost it but sometimes, I guess I just throw it in the trash… because I’m not really sure what to do with it.”

I shared an entire post on all the ways to use Lomi “compost” (which also applies to FoodCycler Foodilizer) and then explained why I think most of them are silly or pointless. Definitely check out that full post to figure out how you’d actually use the electric composter finished product – regularly and sustainably – before buying a Lomi, a FoodCycler, or any other electric composter.

I think most people won’t actually do anything with the finished product except toss it in a green bin, a compost pile, or a trash bin most of the time. This is precisely where the food scraps would likely end up anyway without being processed by the electric composter.

And if that’s the case, what’s the point of buying the thing, letting the thing take up space in your home, using energy to run the thing, and eventually disposing of the thing when it doesn’t actually have a large impact on where food waste ends up?

This is my biggest criticism of electric composters. When we don’t actually put the end product to good use or the machine doesn’t materially change the waste stream, it’s not worth the money or the resources used to make and run the machine.

Beyond this, most people don’t really need any more reasons not to buy the Lomi, the FoodCycler, or any other electric composter. But for those who may actually use the finished product in a useful way that they don’t have access to without the machine, here are some other reasons to consider that might further give you pause before investing in these supposedly eco-friendly appliances.

LomiPod bag
holding a bag of LomiPods

2. Electric Composters are Expensive

The Lomi and the FoodCycler are both pretty expensive. At the time of this post, the Lomi cost $500 while the FoodCycler costs $400. That price is not accessible for most people. I know Lomi and FoodCycler are not necessities and will have certain audiences who can afford the machines. But even if you can afford one of them, I think there are other options that are better.

The Mill membership is arguably more expensive because you pay for it forever (or as long as you subscribe). At $33/month (the price at the time of this post), it will take many months to equal the upfront cost of a Lomi or FoodCycler. But it’s more expensive in the long run if it was a viable sustainable solution. Spoiler Alert: I don’t think it is.

… and there are much better options for those who can afford it

I went into greater detail in my review of the FoodCycler FC-50. But in short, a curbside compost pickup service is available in many urban and suburban areas. A service is much easier to use, more effective, and will take years to equal the cost of either machine.

If you have a neighbor who composts, ask to drop your scraps in their bin. They’ll probably say yes. And if you have a bit of space, I’d choose a Subpod or traditional compost bin like the SoilSaver over an electric composter in most instances.

Related Reading: Top 5 Easiest Ways To Compost At Home

Lomi kitchen composter and Vitamix FoodCycler on a black counter over blue cabinets

3. Electric Composters Take Up a Lot of Space

Both the FoodCycler and the Lomi take up a substantial amount of counter space. I didn’t keep either in our kitchen for this reason. Electric composters can theoretically be for anyone, but they seem to be marketed to and designed particularly for people who don’t have outdoor space to compost themselves.

Given the footprint of kitchen composters, I definitely don’t think they’re a great option for people living in apartments or other small spaces. We’ve lived in apartments in Philadelphia and Chicago. In both cases, I would not have had space for an electric composter in my home.

4. Electric Composters are Kind of Noisy

The Lomi and FoodCycler both run for several hours; usually between 4 and 8 hours per cycle depending on the mode that you use. Both have a noticeable humming motor sound that’s pretty annoying, especially if you live in a small space or have to stay near the machine while it’s running. Some of the Lomi modes are especially loud.

When I run it, I make sure it’s in a room that we aren’t using. If you’re a light sleeper, you also may not want to run it overnight if it’s in a room near where you sleep.

I haven’t used other kitchen composters, so I can’t say from personal experience how loud they are. But in all case, they have to run a small motor to dehydrate and grind up the food scraps. They probably make similar amounts of noise.

5. Kitchen Compost Food Grinds Still Smell Enough To Attract Animals

Some people have asked me if an electric composter might help people compost in bear country. I don’t live in bear country, but I know that these food grinds still have a faint food odor and bears have a keen sense of smell. Depending on what you process, the smell may be pretty strong. I composted some leftover fish scraps in the Lomi, and it smelled very much like fish after going through the machine. I would bet bears would still smell these scraps and expect food (unless you thoroughly buried them).

mulch in disarray after burying FoodCycler food grinds underneath and animals smelled it, digging for food
mulch in my garden in disarray after burying FoodCycler food grinds underneath and animals smelled it, digging for food

At one point, I sprinkled Foodilizer under mulch in my garden. The very next morning, I found a mess of mulch that had certainly been the victim of a voracious raccoon following its nose. Raccoons were common visitors to my compost bin until I locked them, so I wasn’t surprised by the mess. But if raccoons smell the scent and assume it’s good, I suspect bears will do the same. In short, electric composter processing probably doesn’t ease the complexity of composting in bear country.

And even if you don’t live in bear country, you’ve probably got sly raccoons who will be plenty curious if you don’t adequately bury the dried and ground food scraps.

The Final Verdict: Is an electric kitchen composter worth it?

I don’t think so. I just can’t recommend that someone buy an electric composter. I’m a composting nerd. I’ve tried composting in a SoilSaver compost bin (my very favorite outdoor compost bin), an open compost bin, a compost tumbler, and a chicken wire enclosure. I own a Subpod. I even started and sold my own curbside composting service.

Having tried all of these composting methods, the electric composter is my absolute least favorite. It might be an unpopular opinion, but electric composters aren’t the future of food waste.

Do you have an electric kitchen composter? Do you use it regularly? I’d love to know how you like it and how you use the output. Was it a worthwhile investment? Let me know in the comments.

If You Like Posts About Electric Composters, You Might Also Like

9 Ways To Use Lomi Dirt… Or Not? (I’m Skeptical)

9 Types of Free Compost Browns | The Simplest Fix For Slow and Slimy Compost Bins

An Unpaid Review of the Vitamix FoodCycler FC-50

About The Author

Jen Panaro

Jen Panaro, founder and editor-in-chief of Honestly Modern, is a self-proclaimed composting nerd and an advocate for sustainable living for modern families. In her spare time, she’s a serial library book borrower, a messy gardener, and a mom of two boys who spends a lot of time in hockey rinks and on baseball fields.

You can find more of her work at Raising Global Kidizens, an online space to help parents and caregivers raise the next generation of responsible global citizens.

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  1. This article is so helpful. I was literally trying to talk my husband into a Lomi last night, but after reading this, I agree that it’s not right for our home (in bear country).

  2. Thank you for the honest and helpful post!!! I was debating on the two and now I’ll hold off on getting either.

  3. Strongly disagree that it “doesn’t materially change the waste stream” !! I don’t have a garden and simply use mine to reduce food waste. It significantly reduces it, around 80%. Not only that but I just throw the “compost” in the yard which I can’t do with actual food scraps. So in that case it eliminates all our food waste, 100%!!! It’s incredible and I absolutely believe it’s one of the most important solutions for the food waste problem (at least in a household scale).

  4. I have yet to read a review that addresses the elephant sitting in the room. All of these recyclers increase electrical consumption in the home. Pela and others can buy all the carbon credits they need to qualify as carbon neutral, but this equation excludes the increased demand for electricity that is overwhelmingly produced by carbon additive fossil fuels.

    Kudos to you for acknowledging that what comes out of these devices is not really compost, at best it is food scented mulch. In order for it to be compost, it will need to be rehydrated so that soil microorganisms can do what they would have done if this food waste had been added to a home compost pile or buried directly in a garden. A process that requires no electricity.

    I understand that home composting is a luxury only those with a yard have, but in practical terms these devices provide little more than the convenience of fewer trips to the green waste bin with leaky trash bags. Two weeks of scraps would exceed the capacity of most apartment dwellers potted plants and the remaining recycler output enters the waste stream in the same manner as before. Added to a green-waste bin, then transported to the municipal compost facility where, because of its desiccated state, it increases water consumption to reach moisture levels necessary for complete decomposition.

  5. I agree with this comment 100% (meaning I disagree with the author of this article). My husband recently purchased a Lomi, and we are LOVING it. (I will caveat this by saying we have had a difficult time using traditional composting methods. I believe that if you are someone who is able to successfully use either an above-ground or worm compost, like a SubPod, that is the most environmentally-friendly method. We, however, despite our best efforts, were unable to keep up with composting and ended up throwing most of our food waste and bioplastics away – hence, our need for the Lomi.)

    We tried backyard composting in an above-ground tumbling compost bin (due to the fact that we didn’t want critters, including our two dogs, getting into it), but despite our frequent use and best effort, it has been an epic failure for us. It’s just the two of us, so our scraps bin would sit on our counter attracting fruit flies and would eventually become moldy due to the fact that we would inevitably forget to empty it into the compost bin in time while waiting for it to fill up. When we finally did empty it, we would be greeted with a swarm of fruit flies once we opened the compost and dumped our food scraps in. Living in the PNW also makes above-ground composting more difficult due to the climate being colder for much of the year. The Lomi (despite taking up a lot of counter space) has allowed us to quickly and easily dispose of food scraps, bioplastics, and other compostable material that we just can’t in our traditional composter.

    I will admit that we mostly use the “Lomi-approved” mode and throw those scraps in our green bin or outdoor compost bin, but that still reduces our actual trash load by a lot. Our indoor trash also smells way less due to not having rotting food scraps in trash bags. What comes out of the Lomi is WAY less smelly than anything else we’ve tried, plus, the dried bits that come out of each cycle helps our above ground composter work more efficiently since it’s already mostly composted. Using Lomi has allowed us to reduce our carbon footprint by a lot. While it does use electricity, I believe what we are doing now is ultimately better for the environment than simply tossing everything into the trash or recycle bin. (Recycling is notoriously bad for the environment in the long term since the energy it takes to recycle ends up being worse than just throwing the items away.)

    While an electric composter may not be for everyone, if regular composting isn’t working for you, and you can afford it, it’s well worth the money.

    One last note about the Pela company. I know the author of the article seems to not agree with how Pela is advertising, however, sometimes new companies need to spend money on advertising and promotions in order to get the word out and attract business. I agree that if you don’t need 2 phone cases, you shouldn’t get one just because you can, however, if you know someone you can gift a case to who would otherwise not want to try it out, then it seems like a good way to spread the word and possibly get people to switch to a more eco-friendly phone case.

  6. This is interesting. I want a Subpod. I want the worm castings for my garden (food and natural dye plants). But I am leery of having the Subpod near my home and attracting rats. I’m in the Texas hill country so it gets hot and the only place where the Subpod would be out of direct sun (and therefore cooking in the summer) is near the house. But as this is Texas I also have to worry about rats showing up and then bringing snakes right behind them. I had this experience years ago when I was seriously composting and I finally had to get rid of the composter.
    I’m thinking of getting one of these electric composters to make the food less appealing to rats when it goes into the Subpod. Do you think the outpost of one of these electric things will work in a Subpod?

    1. Hi Mandi – This is an interesting question. I have a Subpod and use it occasionally (though where I live, the regular compost bins are more effective so it’s not my first system). My compost bins are far enough from my house though so the rats don’t pose a threat being near my home. The Subpod is novel and is really nice if you plan to manage it actively, but it’s not the best if you don’t plan to turn it regularly. Also, the worms will die each winter if you live in a cold area and don’t cover it through winter with a cold frame or something similar (so you need to “reset” it each spring). In the interest of saving money, I don’t think a Subpod will provide any additional benefits over a regular compost bin if you’re using the Lomi or FoodCycler to dehydrate the scraps before putting them into the bin, especially if you mix them into the existing compost each time you dump them. — I’ve seen people store the Lomi/FoodCycler in a container, collecting them for many months in a garage can or even a closed container in a cabinet, and then adding them to their garden or a compost bin only a few times a year. I had Lomi dehydrated food scraps in yogurt containers (with lids on them!) on our counter for months. While they did have a bit of a scent when I opened them, they did not have any smell so long as the containers were closed. In short, if you have a Lomi or Food Cycler, I bet you don’t need a Subpod (though they are nice); a regular bin would probably be fine. Hope that helps! Feel free to leave any follow up questions.

  7. If you’re not using them, please send them to me! I live in VT, and it is illegal for us to throw out food scraps here. It’s also too snowy to compost more than half the year. And since I am in a rural area I don’t have access to a local compost service. *I* am who these products are made for, but I can’t afford them. So truly, if you are not using them – please consider sending them my way!! I will put them to good use!

    1. Hi Amanda – Thanks for sharing your perspective. I am sure there are people for whom a Lomi or FoodCycler helps. Just out of curiosity, have you tried tossing scraps in a compost bin throughout the winter and just letting them freeze? Then in the spring, they can decompose. Cold weather alone shouldn’t prevent someone from composting, especially in a rural area, though I know there may be related considerations that make composting in winter more challenging. I have a friend who lives in Vermont and has the same challenge with the food scrap regulation. If you have other questions, let me know. I no longer have these systems (I got rid of them after having and using them for about a year – more for the FoodCycler – and found they weren’t the best for me).

  8. What then is your answer for composting dairy, fats, meat, and small bones inside the home during winter in the northern climates, if not electric composters? Bokashi?

    1. Electric composters could be an option. I think Bokashi is probably a better option for many people (though I certainly can’t speak for everyone). Community drop-off locations at commercial composting sites are good alternatives as are compost pick up services, where available. More and more municipalities are offering pick-up services, which hopefully expands. And in the meantime, the system just isn’t set up for perfection unfortunately.

      Here is one article where we’ve touched on composting in winter. It’s not a perfect solution, but could work for some people.


  9. I bought a Lomi on Black Friday 2022. My attempt to compost in a barrel was going very slowly, and I couldn’t add meat to it. Just like my barrel composter, mostly I add coffee in its filters, banana peels, egg shells, etc. but now I’m also adding uneaten cat food. So far, I run it every 2-3 days after the bucket fills or the smell becomes unbearable. I spread the “compost” in bare spots of my backyard (with a bit of grass seed), and it’s been working really well with grass finally growing again in those area. While I haven’t calculated a good ROI, my brain has been pleased with the results.

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