© Zera Food Recycler
Mike Pomranz
June 22, 2017

I won’t go as far as to claim that food waste is a problem that stems directly from our collective laziness, but I think it’s safe to say that a lot more people would get on board with composting if the process was easier. Whirlpool thinks it may have the solution: At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, the brand debuted its Zera Food Recycler – a “revolutionary kitchen appliance [that] transforms food waste into sustainable homemade fertilizer within 24 hours.”

“This innovative product is the first indoor recycler in the United States that converts a week’s worth of food waste into ready-to-use homemade fertilizer within 24 hours,” Whirlpool says of the large waste bin-sized kitchen appliance designed to sit adjacent to a countertop. Zera has other benefits as well: “Unlike traditional composting methods, families are able to use the Zera system year-round regardless of the weather and can remotely operate the appliance through the easy-to-use Whirlpool mobile app.” Yes, composting via a smartphone app: I don’t know if our hippie forefathers would be proud or confused. Probably both.

Related: BEAUTIFUL IN ITS OWN WAY: HOW BEN SIMON IS SAVING THE WORLD'S UGLY FOOD

But Zera is also a bit of a paradox: You’re buying a high-tech machine that utilizes electricity to try to make the world a better place by doing something Mother Nature does naturally. It also appears to require repeat purchases of “Zera Additive Packs” and “Zera Air Filters,” meaning keeping your composting going will come at a continual price. And of course, you need somewhere to put all that resulting homemade fertilizer, making this a poor choice for apartment dwellers unless they have plenty of empty pots.

Still, it appears Whirlpool has found an audience. The brand is initially offering Zera via an Indiegogo preorder effort, a campaign which has already proven successful. 115 backers have thrown down nearly $100,000 by snatching up the food recyclers that started at the early bird price of $699, before ramping up to $899 and, eventually, $999. At that price, you could perhaps call the Zera the Ferrari of composting appliances. Alright, that phrase would definitely leave our hippie forefathers rolling their eyes.

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