Electric food composters are changing the game in organic waste management by providing a speedy and easy way to turn kitchen leftovers into valuable compost. These devices streamline the composting process, making it user-friendly for both homes and small enterprises.

But, to get the most out of them, it’s crucial to know which items are compostable and which aren’t. This guide will walk you through the dos and don’ts of electric composting, focusing on what to feed your composter to keep it running smoothly.

How do electric composters work?

Electric food composters are innovative appliances designed to simplify the composting process, making it quicker and more convenient for households and small businesses. Here’s a detailed yet easy-to-understand explanation of how these devices work.

Basic Principles

Electric composters, also known as electric food recyclers, function by accelerating the natural decomposition process of organic waste. Traditional composting can take several months, but electric composters can reduce this time to just a few hours or days. They do this by creating an optimal environment for the breakdown of organic materials, utilizing heat, moisture control, and aeration.

Key Components and Their Functions

Grinding Mechanism

One of the first steps in the electric composting process is grinding or shredding the organic waste. The composter has blades or grinders that chop up food scraps into smaller pieces. This increases the surface area of the waste, making it easier and faster for the microorganisms to break it down.

Heating Element

Electric composters are equipped with heating elements that raise the temperature inside the chamber. Higher temperatures help speed up the decomposition process by creating an ideal environment for thermophilic bacteria, which thrive in warm conditions. These bacteria are highly efficient at breaking down organic matter.

Aeration System

Proper aeration is crucial for composting. Electric composters often have built-in fans or vents that ensure adequate airflow throughout the waste. This helps to maintain aerobic conditions, preventing the compost from becoming anaerobic (which can lead to unpleasant odours and slower decomposition).

Moisture Control

Maintaining the right moisture level is essential for effective composting. Electric composters have sensors that monitor the moisture content of the waste. If the waste is too wet, the machine may activate drying cycles to remove excess moisture. Conversely, if it’s too dry, a bit of water might be added to keep the process going smoothly.

Mixing Mechanism

To ensure even decomposition, the composting material needs to be regularly turned or mixed. Electric composters have automatic mixing mechanisms that periodically stir the contents, ensuring that all parts of the waste are exposed to heat and air.

The Composting Cycle

The composting process in an electric composter typically follows these steps:

  1. Loading: Users place food scraps and other organic waste into the composter. Most electric composters can handle a variety of waste types, including fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds, eggshells, and even small bones.
  2. Grinding: The composter grinds the waste into smaller pieces to facilitate faster decomposition.
  3. Heating and Aeration: The machine heats the waste and ensures adequate airflow. This combination of heat and oxygen accelerates the breakdown of organic material.
  4. Moisture Control: The composter continuously monitors and adjusts the moisture level to create the perfect conditions for decomposition.
  5. Mixing: The waste is regularly mixed to promote even breakdown and prevent clumping.
  6. Completion: After a few hours to a couple of days, the process is complete, and the waste has been transformed into a nutrient-rich soil amendment known as humus. This can be used to enrich garden soil, providing essential nutrients for plants.

Benefits of Electric Composters

  • Speed: Electric composters significantly reduce the time required to produce compost compared to traditional methods.
  • Convenience: They are easy to use and require minimal manual effort.
  • Odour Control: The enclosed system and efficient aeration help to minimize odours.
  • Environmental Impact: By turning food waste into compost, electric composters help reduce the amount of organic waste sent to landfills, decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.

In summary, electric composters use a combination of grinding, heating, aeration, moisture control, and mixing to rapidly convert organic waste into compost. These appliances make composting accessible and efficient, providing an eco-friendly solution for managing kitchen scraps and other biodegradable materials.

What can I put in the electric food composter?

Electric food composters are convenient appliances designed to simplify the composting process, turning kitchen scraps and other organic waste into nutrient-rich compost. Knowing what materials you can put into your electric composter is crucial for ensuring efficient and effective composting.

Here’s a guide to help you understand what you can and cannot compost in an electric composter.

Suitable Materials for Electric Composters

  1. Fruit and Vegetable Scraps:
    • Peels and Rinds: Banana peels, apple cores, orange rinds, and other fruit scraps are perfect for composting.
    • Vegetable Peelings: Potato skins, carrot peels, and other vegetable scraps decompose quickly.
    • Leftover Fruits and Vegetables: Any leftover fruits and vegetables that are past their prime can be composted.
  2. Coffee Grounds and Tea Leaves:
    • Coffee Grounds: Used coffee grounds are rich in nitrogen and are great for composting. You can also compost the paper filters.
    • Tea Leaves: Loose tea leaves or the contents of used tea bags (make sure the bags are biodegradable) can go in the composter.
  3. Eggshells:
    • Crushed Eggshells: While eggshells take longer to decompose, crushing them into smaller pieces helps them break down faster. They add valuable calcium to the compost.
  4. Bread and Grains:
    • Stale Bread: Old bread, crackers, and other grain-based products can be composted, although they should be added in moderation to avoid attracting pests.
    • Pasta and Rice: Cooked pasta and rice can also be composted, but avoid adding too much at once.
  5. Small Bones and Shells:
    • Chicken Bones: Some electric composters can handle small bones, such as those from chickens. They take longer to break down but eventually add minerals to the compost.
    • Shells: Crushed shells from seafood like shrimp or crabs can be composted in some machines.
  6. Yard Waste:
    • Leaves and Grass Clippings: Small amounts of leaves and grass clippings can be added to balance the green and brown material ratio.
    • Garden Waste: Dead flowers and plant trimmings are also suitable.
  7. Your unfinished food:
    • Some fish n’ chips that you can’t finish or scraps of your pizza.
    • Food scraps that not too wet or too oily.

Tips for Effective Composting

  • Chop Waste into Smaller Pieces: Smaller pieces break down faster, speeding up the composting process.
  • Balance Green and Brown Materials: Green materials (fruit and vegetable scraps) are rich in nitrogen, while brown materials (leaves, eggshells) are rich in carbon. Balancing these helps create nutrient-rich compost.
  • Avoid Overloading: Don’t overload the composter. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on capacity to ensure efficient operation.

What shouldn’t I put in the electric composter?

Electric composters are great for transforming organic waste into nutrient-rich compost quickly and efficiently. However, knowing what shouldn’t go into your electric composter is crucial to avoid issues such as bad odours, pests, and equipment damage.

Here’s an easy guide on what materials to avoid when using an electric food composter.

What Not to Put in an Electric Composter

Closeup view at Homemade tasty potato pancakes in clay dish with sun-dried tomatoes
  1. Meat and Fish:
    • Raw and Cooked Meat: Meat, whether raw or cooked, should be kept out of the composter. It decomposes slowly, produces unpleasant odours, and can attract pests.
    • Fish and Seafood: Similar to meat, fish can cause bad smells and attract unwanted pests.
  2. Dairy Products:
    • Cheese, Milk, and Yogurt: Dairy products can create a sticky mess, produce foul odours, and attract pests. They also decompose slowly compared to vegetable matter.
  3. Oily and Greasy Foods:
    • Cooking Oils and Fats: Oils and fats don’t break down well in composters and can disrupt the composting process by coating other materials and slowing decomposition.
    • Greasy Foods: Foods like fried foods and foods coated in oil should be avoided for the same reasons as oils and fats.
  4. Large Bones:
    • Beef and Pork Bones: Large bones take a very long time to decompose and can damage the grinding mechanism in the composter. Even small bones, like chicken bones, should be added sparingly if the composter can handle them.
  5. Non-Biodegradable Materials:
    • Plastics and Metals: These materials do not break down and can damage the composter. Always ensure no plastic wrappers, cutlery, or metal items end up in the compost.
    • Synthetic Fabrics: Fabrics made from synthetic materials like polyester or nylon are non-biodegradable and should not be composted.
  6. Processed Foods:
    • Sugary and Salty Snacks: Items like candy, chips, and other highly processed foods contain additives and preservatives that don’t break down easily and can disrupt the composting process.
  7. Pet Waste:
    • Dog and Cat Waste: Pet waste can contain harmful pathogens and should never be composted in a home system. Stick to yard waste and kitchen scraps instead.
  8. Chemically Treated Materials:
    • Pesticide-laden Plants: Yard waste treated with pesticides or herbicides can introduce harmful chemicals into your compost, which can be detrimental to your garden.
  9. Large Amounts of Yard Waste:
    • Woody Branches and Thick Stems: Large, woody items take a long time to decompose and can overload the composter. It’s best to avoid thick branches and stems.
  10. Certain Paper Products:
    • Glossy Paper: Glossy or coated paper, such as magazines or certain advertisements, often contains chemicals and should be avoided.
    • Coloured Paper: Some coloured papers contain dyes that may not be compost-friendly.

Why These Items Should Be Avoided

  1. Odour Production: Meat, dairy, and oily foods can produce strong, unpleasant odours as they decompose, making the composting process less pleasant and potentially attracting pests.
  2. Slow Decomposition: Non-biodegradable materials, large bones, and processed foods break down very slowly or not at all, which can hinder the efficiency of the composter.
  3. Pest Attraction: Foods that decompose slowly and produce strong odours, such as meat and fish, can attract pests like rodents and insects.
  4. Potential Equipment Damage: Hard or non-compostable items, like large bones and plastics, can damage the grinding and aeration mechanisms of the composter.

Tips for Effective Use

  • Chop Materials: Chop your compostable waste into smaller pieces to help it break down faster.
  • Balance Greens and Browns: Aim for a balanced mix of green (nitrogen-rich) and brown (carbon-rich) materials to create optimal composting conditions.
  • Follow Manufacturer Guidelines: Always check the manual for specific do’s and don’ts for your particular electric composter model.


Electric composters offer a practical and eco-friendly way to manage organic waste, turning it into valuable compost that can enrich your garden soil. By following the guidelines on what to compost and what to avoid, you can ensure that your electric composter operates smoothly and efficiently.

Sticking to suitable materials like fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, and eggshells while avoiding meat, dairy, oily foods, and non-biodegradable items will help you produce high-quality compost and prevent issues such as bad odours, pests, and equipment damage.

Embracing these best practices will not only enhance your composting experience but also contribute to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly lifestyle.

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