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What is the Carbon Footprint of iCompost?

Updated: Jun 24, 2022

iCompost is intended to make composting super easy and to do that it needs to use technology powered by electricity. However, we would not want to be doing more harm than good by using electricity so we carefully calibrated the machine to ensure this. The following is a discussion of iCompost's energy use and carbon footprint.

Our base scenario for comparison is the prevailing one - in which most people throw their food waste in the bin, which goes to the landfill and releases methane - a strong greenhouse gas. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, 1 kg food waste at the landfill releases 0.88 kg of CO2-e.

On average, from our own measurements, a full processing cycle of 1kg of food waste in iCompost will consume 0.7 kWh. In South Africa, for each kilowatt hour of electricity produced, 0.879 kg CO2 are emitted, excluding emissions from maintaining the electricity grid (as there are also emissions associated with maintaining a landfill assumed to be equivalent). This means that a typical cycle of iCompost results in 0.62 kg CO2 of emissions.

  • 1 kg food waste in landfill = 0.88 kg CO2-e

  • 1kg food waste in iCompost = 0.62 kg CO2

Therefore, using electricity to compost 1kg food waste in iCompost is 30% better in terms of greenhouse gas emissions than letting it go to landfill.

The analysis excludes embodied emissions from manufacturing and shipping an iCompost, as there is also an (assumed equivalent) excluded footprint of growing, processing and transporting food to your kitchen which is then wasted.

This analysis is only a direct comparison of greenhouse gas emissions, however, there are many other benefits from composting rather than landfilling:

  • Less contamination of groundwater

  • Less landfill airspace usage

  • Less offensive odours from landfills

  • Less contamination of dry recyclables like cardboard

  • No flies/maggots/smell in the household bin

  • Household waste wouldn't need to be collected weekly if there was no rotting food waste in the bin

  • More carbon in the soil which improves soil health

  • Closer transition towards a zero waste lifestyle

  • Reduces need for synthetic fertilizer

There are already more basic methods of composting which don't use electricity, but they all have their drawbacks which is why composting hasn't been adopted in every household, even though composting is hundreds of years old. That means, whether the method uses electricity or not is not the issue - but rather does the method address people's lifestyle needs.

We are looking at designing a solar powered option for those who are living off the grid, but that will naturally be more expensive.

The main benefit, we believe, is that the ultimate level of convenience that an iCompost brings, will create a stronger #CompostCulture and will lead the change towards a #CircularEconomy.

By Himkaar Singh,

B.Sc Eng. (Civil) & GDE (Wits-South Africa), M.Sc IWRM (TH Köln-Germany, Vietnam, Jordan)

Download the full Lifecycle Analysis Report here: (coming soon)

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