the smart company that turns landfill food into compost – right in your kitchen.
Himkaar Singh with iCompost. Photo provided.
- Where others see trash, North Johannesburg entrepreneur Himkaar Singh has found a company that saves the planet.
- His company, called the Compost kitchen, helps South Africans divert organic waste and turn it into rewarding compost – with the help of an army of earthworms.
- But, they realized that the organic waste they were collecting was a pretty inefficient process – because 90% of the waste is water. It would be much easier if they could convince people to compost at home. But, since composting needs space; odors; and requires earthworms, few people are eager to undertake the task.
- This is where their latest innovation comes in, capable of composting in the kitchen – without worms or odors.
- For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
Let’s be honest, no one likes to deal with garbage. It stinks and attracts all kinds of unsavory creatures. The worst part is that when you throw it away, you don’t think about where it ends up.
But, where others see waste, North Johannesburg entrepreneur Himkaar Singh has found a business that can save the planet. It turns organic waste that no one wants to process into a valuable resource. In the process, it helps prevent tons of trash from ending up in a dumpster. His business, called Compost Kitchen, helps South Africans divert their organic waste and turn it into rewarding compost for gardens.
The secret to its success lies in the thousands of earthworms that eat the waste and then expel enriched compost. Called vermicompost, it is rich in nutrients and spongy enough to retain water, ideal for organic farming and your garden.
“Organic waste is the most problematic waste stream because it produces methane in the landfill and can pollute groundwater when dumped in the landfill. We have a big dream of diverting all South African organic waste from the landfill so that it can be properly composted and thus become a valuable soil conditioner.
Himkaar Singh picking up trash on the Compound Kitchen bike. Photo provided.
This is why, over the past three years, you would have seen Singh on the streets of Fourways towing a cart full of trash on a bicycle on “his tours” picking up trash from some 350 customers – from banana peels to shells. eggs – to feed its army of hungry, hardworking earthworms.
“Our company was founded in 2019 for the simple purpose of putting organic matter back into the soil to improve South Africa’s water security. Organic matter makes the soil act like a sponge, and it’s the most efficient thing we can do if we want to avoid water conflicts in the future.
While biking has had an impact on the communities of Fourways, Singh believes his next big step is to use technology to help even more. His dream is to have a significant impact on reducing the 95 million tonnes of waste South Africans send to landfill each year.
“We have an outdated philosophy of waste management – where if I produce a banana peel then it’s the whole problem of society to take care of it, that’s why we have garbage trucks and landfills. . If we divert the organics from the landfill and compost them in an aerobic environment, the process only releases carbon dioxide which is much less potent than methane and results in a valuable soil conditioner which is so important for the future of agriculture.
The device fits easily into your home. Photo provided.
Since starting the business, Compost Kitchen has realized that organic waste is 90% water, which makes it incredibly heavy for a man on a bicycle to carry. To make the system more efficient, he ultimately wants people to make their own compost at home. But there is one problem – it is impractical.
“The easiest way to compost food scraps at home is to have a compost pile in the garden, but most people are looking for a solution that has no odor, no flies, no vermin. and no damage.
This is where their latest innovation, called iCompost, comes in.
ICompost turns your organic waste into compost overnight. Photo provided.
The device is about the size of a small microwave and if you didn’t know what it was you’d swear it’s just a chic sour dough pan or a white boujee coffee maker. Its focus, however, goes beyond anything South Africans are used to seeing on a kitchen counter. Indeed, the device is a composter capable of transforming your vegetable waste into compost – overnight.
“All you have to do is put your kitchen scraps in the machine every day, press START, and when you wake up in the morning you will have rich compost that you can use in your plants. ”
With the capacity to take up to 2 liters (or 1 kilogram) of waste and using a small amount of electricity (0.7 kWH), it can decompose waste in just 5 hours. Which is great news for the environment.
How it works?
Step 1. Put out all types of food waste collected throughout the day, including coffee grounds, tea bags and eggshells.
Step 2. Tap Start. In just a few hours, its odorless and silent technology turns your food waste into compost.
Step 3. The result: a dry, natural, nutrient-rich soil amendment for plants, lawns and gardens.
Not only is it useful for people who don’t have the space for large composting bins in their yard, it also has no odor associated with storing food waste like with some traditional compost bins.
The compost after. Photo provided.
The only things that lose when it comes to innovation is Singh’s army of earthworms … because you’re using a bag of compost activator instead. But don’t worry, the worms still have plenty to eat.
“We didn’t suddenly come up with iCompost as a solution – it has taken us a lifetime to observe the patterns of the world and research the science of what’s going on around us. We stuck with the idea for months because we didn’t have the resources to bring it to market and we weren’t sure if South Africans could afford it. But in 2021, we had good growth and the support of dozens of mentors, so we were able to find all the answers. ”
In just a few years, Compost Kitchen has diverted 30 tonnes of food waste from landfills and returned 2.2 tonnes of vermicompost to its customers. The work has been recognized as one of the 300 global best practices in sustainability and innovation by the United Nations, reports news24. It was also selected for the Branson Center of Entrepreneurship’s Food Waste Innovation Challenge in South Africa this year.
“When I was in elementary school I learned about how some companies destroy the planet, but 20 years later business continues as usual. Businesses won’t change, but we can change businesses. This is the future of business, and we need more South Africans to create these solutions. “
ICompost is currently imported into South Africa. But Singh ultimately wants to see them made here in South Africa. You can pre-order them on their site until January 10, 2022.
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