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Turn your garbage disposal into a composter with this gadget

Composting is all about reducing waste and reusing existing resources, so of course, when conceptualizing a device to help individuals compost, the same principles had to be applied. And applied they were when a team of senior engineering students from Rice University’s Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen developed the BioBlend, an attachment that turns your average garbage disposal into a composter.

So no, you don’t need to buy a brand new composting bin or throw away your old system — just turn it into something brand new with BioBlend. 

In essence, the device separates food waste from whatever else might be going down your drain, which aims to both simplify the composting process and save resources in the process. “Once food goes down the disposal, it gets mixed with sewage and other things,” Mitch Torczon, a member of the design team told the Houston Chronicle. “At that point, we can’t use the food for composting.” But if you simply attach the BioBlend to a garbage disposal under your kitchen sink, you can overcome that obstacle.

The device keeps the food waste in a separate attached bin that you can empty when full, or convert into biogas to cook your next meal. “Once it’s started up and had a few meals go through the system,” Torczon said, “it should be producing enough fuel to essentially cook the next meal from the last one – a one-to-one ratio.”

Developed in conjunction with both Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden and NASA, the BioBlend has a pretty bright future ahead, as the space agency believes that the invention may be used in future missions to Mars. That said, however, us earthlings can also find many an application for this attachable composter.

“We wanted something small and simple,” Ryan Yeh, another team members, noted. “We wanted it to be easy to use so that people aren’t having to make huge changes to compost their food. It wouldn’t be successful in the long term if it required too much of the user, and we were mindful of that reality.”

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Not only does the BioBlend make composting easier, it also strives to “help users learn about reducing food waste and inspire them to alter their behavior.” As team member Christina Petlowany explained, “Your BioBlend records data, and then that data is viewable online. You can track how much food you’re composting. It’s practical but also interactive.”

Ultimately, the goal is to change our waste and wasteful habits, and given the ease of use of the BioBlend, it won’t be a painful adjustment. “Once it’s been set up, the device runs completely on its own,” co-inventor Edgar Silva said. “The only additional effort is emptying the bin.”

But how much will it cost? Because the team focused on using inexpensive yet efficient materials, mass production costs look to be relatively low. “The BioBlend won’t be any more expensive than a garbage disposal,” Petlowany said. “Actually, it’ll most likely be cheaper.”

So if you’re looking to do your part for the planet, you may consider starting with the BioBlend — once it becomes available to consumers, that is.