Flip the lid open, organic waste in, fresh compost out after three hours? Unfortunately, it's not quite that simple. We're sharing with you today why it takes a little more to make healthy, nutrient-rich compost for your plants at home.
There are currently many devices that promise you fresh compost within a very short time. Please be critical in your own way and question the process. Composting is a science in itself and nature actually needs several weeks for it. Fresh compost is a masterpiece of nature - because everything in it is perfectly balanced: moisture, temperature, pH and nutrients.
As far as we know, such a process is not possible within four or five hours. Moisture is one of the most important factors for composting - but it is completely extracted from organic waste when it is heated quickly for a short time. However, this is how many of these so-called “composting” devices work. The microorganisms then literally sit on dry land and do not manage to continue processing your organic waste. As a result, the composting process cannot even begin. The 48 hours that KALEA needs are currently the shortest window of time to produce real, fresh and natural compost without further addition of microorganisms.
But what exactly is composting anyway?
Very roughly speaking, compost is the end product of a decomposition process. This happens all the time in nature. In forests, meadows, fields - everywhere. It means that organic matter, for example the rest of your apple, is decomposed by microorganisms. These microorganisms are naturally present on all food. They are able to break down organic matter into its basic building blocks and convert it into a mineralized form, which is very important for strong plant growth. However, it takes a lot of time to transform old matter into fresh new matter for plants to feed on.
There are different stages during the composting process. In the early stage of composting, organic source material is broken down at the molecular level and transformed into new nutrient-rich compounds. In a later stage of the composting process, these nutrient-rich compounds are further mineralized. Stable, inorganic substances are formed that promote plant growth. Normally, this process takes several weeks. In a compost pile in the garden, the biological process can only take place in the center of the pile, because only there the heat is sufficiently high. Therefore, the material in the garden must be regularly turned over.
At KALEA, we have combined this natural process with an innovative technology. We were supported with this by the renowned Fraunhofer Institute. Thanks to our technology, the composting process described above no longer takes several weeks, but only 48 hours. KALEA accelerates the reproduction and metabolism of the microorganisms through intelligent control and sensor technology, so that composting is possible within this short time.
Composting 2.0 - why you can dispose of more in KALEA than in an ordinary compost heap
Anyone familiar with the composting business knows: there are a few no-goes, mostly related to the food that can be composted. For example, dairy and meat products are normally off limits in compost heaps. But what many don't know is that dairy products and meat can also be composted - and their generated compost can be used. To prevent any pathogenic germs from being present and multiplying in the compost, the compost must be heated to over 60°C for several days during or at the end of the process. We ensure this hygienization with an automatic process step and even accelerate it by heating the biomass to about 100°C for 3 hours. This is a very important step for us. The components of dairy and meat products usually form a strong nitrogen source and are therefore quite beneficial for plants. The reason why neither would otherwise end up in the (garden) compost is to avoid attracting vermin (e.g. rats) and a lack of optimal temperature control outdoors - which we can generate excellently in KALEA.
Good things take time. So when you come across kitchen composters promising fresh compost within hours - ask yourself: how does their composting system work? How do they retain moisture in the compost and what happens in those few hours?
We think it's great that so many smart people are looking into composting. After all, the more kitchen waste we sustainably turn into compost, the less organic waste we produce. As we say: “Make Compost, Not Waste”. But if we do, make sure it is real, hygienic compost that's safe and good for our plants.