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Lomi Composter – Review of cost, how it works & is it worth it?

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/5 Cansumer Rating

Bottom line

I do not recommend Lomi unless handling food waste is too unpleasant for you or you fit one of these situations.

For most people in Canada, using a green bin program, home composting or a program like ShareWaste is much cheaper, more effective and better for the environment.

Like other small household appliances, Lomi is an appliance of convenience, reducing the unpleasantness (bad smells, leaks, mold and bin cleaning) of handling and bulkiness of storing food waste. However, as with almost all products of convenience, it comes at the price of increased cost and carbon footprint (for manufacturing, shipping, electricity, difficulty, repair and e-waste disposal).

Contrary to the name of its product category, the Lomi “home composter” does not actually create ready-to-use compost (see: What is composting?). Rather, it turns your food waste into dry, pulverised, relatively odourless tiny scraps – just past the starting line of compost. This is of course exactly what it was before, as raw food scraps are just as full of nutrients and composting potential.

In my opinion, their marketing claims create an impression that the product is “greener” than it really is, as the proposed reduction in your carbon footprint comes from not putting your food scraps in the garbage, rather than the operation of the unit. This is a practice known as “greenwashing” and can be illegal if the claims don’t meet certain standards.

Trying to reduce your waste is a good goal – there are a number of alternative solutions such as composting via a tumblr, bokashi, worm bin or trenching that might work for your lifestyle and living situation.

  • Convenience
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Ease of use
  • Value
2.4

Summary

Lomi is a small countertop appliance that dries out and chops up organic materials such as food scraps off the cutting board, leftovers, spoiled food, rinds and peels and turns them into a fine, dried particulate.

Pros

  • Helps prevent smells, leaks, mold and flies
  • Reduces volume of food waste, making it easier to store/transport
  • Easy to use (1 button)

Cons

  • Pricey unit and replacement filters
  • Can seem noisy in small spaces
  • Energy intensive, but not energy expensive
  • Must be intentional about what you put in it
  • Doesn’t actually produce compost

Lomi features

  • Size: 16” x 13” x 12”
  • Weight: 22 lb. (10 kg)
  • Capacity: 3L (filling ¾ or 2.25L is recommended)
  • Bucket: Aluminum with non-stick coating (claimed to be stainless steel in the Indiegogo campaign), dishwasher friendly
  • Requires: refillable filter, probiotic tabs optional

Is the Lomi right for you?

Whether or not Lomi is worth it depends primarily on whether your reason for buying is for the convenience or environmental benefits.

If you’re buying for convenience, it is worth considering and so is the cheaper Vitamix FoodCycler FC-50 (comparison).

If buying for environmental reasons, it might be worth it if organic waste is too gross, smelly, or inconvenient and solving this would mean an environmentally friendly food waste disposal option such as green bin/home composting would become available/feasible, and your food scraps would go there instead of the garbage.

Best for:

  • If there is no organic waste “green bin” curb-side pickup, you don’t have space outside your house for a composter and no space inside for a worm bin (such as if you live in a city, small apartment or condo), and there’s no one nearby on the ShareWaste app

Not recommended for:

  • If you already use organic waste, have a composter or dispose of food waste in a garden
  • If you have space inside for a worm bin or yard large enough to keep a composter

What is Lomi?

Lomi is a small countertop appliance that dries out and chops up organic materials such as food scraps off the cutting board, leftovers, spoiled food, rinds and peels and turns them into a fine, dried particulate.

Parent company Pela, a successful phone case maker based in Kelowna, BC raised $9.1M in a crowdfunding campaign in June 2021, equating to pre-orders of an estimated over 26,000 units (at the discounted price of $399 USD). 

Lomi’s main competitors are the Tero which is designed and made in Canada raised $1.75M in Dec 2020 and KALEA which is designed in Germany and raised over $1.5M in Nov 2020.

What is Lomi NOT?

It is not a replacement for a green/organic waste bin, garbage or wherever you put your food waste as you will still need somewhere to dispose of the dried particulate (“end product”) it produces.

How does the Lomi work?

Lomi before and after. Credit: Home for the Harvest

The Lomi is essentially a hybrid of a food processor and food dehydrator. 

  1. First, it uses blades to chop and grind the food into smaller pieces, creating more surface area which speeds up the next step.
  2. It then applies heat to dehydrate the scraps (a process known as desiccation), which shrinks them in size as water is removed and inhibits the growth of bacteria, yeasts, and mold.
  3. It may repeat these processes to further break down the scraps.

It is certainly easy to use as it has one button to power on and cycle between the 3 modes:

ModeDuration (hours)Contents
Eco-Express3 to 5Food waste
Lomi Approved5 to 8Bioplastics, packaging
Grow16 to 20Preserving microorganisms and bacteria

The increased surface area created does provide more area and oxygen (aeration) makes it easier for any microorganisms on or in the food to decompose it faster, but unless you’re using the slower, lower temperature Grow mode, they will be killed off by the heat, starved of water and will not start decomposing the waste.

Using the Grow mode and with the addition of an optional LomiPod with its blend of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms, the Lomi does, in theory, encourage the beginning of the decomposition (composting) process.

Lomi filters

The refillable charcoal filters trap odours and absorb moisture so that the to make the exit airflow is less smelly and less likely to cause condensation. Over time, the charcoal will become saturated and less effective which increases the smells and condensation that escape the filtering process. They recommend replacing them every 3 to 6 months.

LomiPods

LomiPods are small white tablets made of a “proprietary blend of probiotics” “bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms” that “help reduce smell, improves the speed of degradation and creates healthy output for your plants”. They recommend you use 1 every time you run a Grow cycle or if you’re breaking down bioplastics, but are not required.

What do you do with the end product?

Once you’ve run a cycle (or two), what do you do with the end product? It might take longer to pile up due to its reduced volume, but once you’ve accumulated a bag (or bucket) of the stuff, there are a few options:

You have a garden or plants (using as home compost “fertilizer”)

Adding the material to your indoor plants, yard or garden sounds like a good option, however, plant matter is not plant food until it is broken down by the saprophytes in the soil food web, and released in water soluble forms.

In addition, the dried food scraps will rehydrate as soon as it gets wet outside: rain, dew, humidity, watering – quickly reversing the energy-intensive dehydration process and then eventually decompose, which may attract unwanted pests.

Lomi also recommends that you mix 1 part end product with 10 parts soil before adding it to your plants and garden. If you have a yard or garden of a size large enough to accept all the organic material, you might want to consider a more intentional composting setup.

Lomi increases the convenience of handling food scraps before they are composted in essentially the same way you would with raw food scraps, at the cost of increasing your carbon footprint.

Home composting is the best disposal method of the three, whether or not you use a Lomi due to reducing transportation costs and avoiding methane emissions.

You use a green bin program

Lomi: You have a green bin program – you know, those pesky little plastic bins with leaky bags under your sink that are amazing at producing that smelly, gross liquid sludge.

Adding the dry end product to your green bin means you will minimize the smells, sludge or other unpleasantness that result if you are not able to keep your green bin dry and clean (here are some tips, and some more) and the reduced volume/weight means you can wait longer before having to take out the green bin to your nearest collection point. It also lowers the cost of transportation to the processing centre.

However, as soon as the dried food scraps are collected and mixed with others’ food waste, they will rehydrate, quickly reversing the energy-intensive dehydration process and then start to decompose.

Lomi increases the convenience of handling food scraps at the cost of increasing your carbon footprint (for manufacturing, shipping, electricity, repair and disposal).

Using a green bin is a good disposal method whether or not you use a Lomi due to avoiding methane emissions.

You throw your food waste in the garbage

Lomi: You don’t have a green bin system where you live and instead you throw all your food waste into the garbage, which then goes to landfill, which produces methane, which causes climate change, all while still smelling pretty terrible.

Adding the dry end product to your garbage means you will minimize the smells, sludge or other unpleasantness that result if you are not able to get rid of your garbage frequently enough and the reduced volume/weight means you can wait longer before having to take out your garbage to your nearest collection point. It also lowers the cost of transportation to the landfill.

If you put the end product in the garbage, it will still be sent to landfill, where it will likely rehydrate, quickly reversing the energy-intensive dehydration process and then start to decompose, producing a similar amount of methane (via anaerobic decomposition) and therefore the same amount of climate change as they would if you had not put them through the Lomi. 

Lomi increases the convenience of handling food scraps at the cost of increasing your carbon footprint.

Putting food waste in the garbage is a less than ideal disposal method whether or not you use a Lomi due to transportation costs and methane emissions.

How much does Lomi cost?

The Lomi appliance costs $499 USD (or $632 CAD when this was published). You pay $49 USD up front and the rest is charged when your order ships. 

Non-refundable deposit: The $49 USD deposit you pay up front is non-refundable if you decide to cancel your order before you receive the product. I assume this is in place due to some customers having to wait long enough for their order that they end up changing their minds.

Once you receive the product, you get a 30 day trial during which you can get a full refund – including the initial deposit – of $499 USD.

Filters and pods

The replacement Lomi Filters, and LomiPods cost $39 USD every 3 months and you commit to a 2 year membership ($312 USD total).

Cost of electricity to operate

Based on Ontario electricity rates, it uses $0.08 to $0.17 worth of electricity or less per cycle. 

The Lomi can draw up to 500W of power, but the company claims that it uses:

ModeElectricity use (kWh)
Eco-Express0.6
Lomi Approved0.75
Grow1

1 kWh is the equivalent of running the unit at full power for 2 hours, but the modes run anywhere from 3 to 20 hours on less than full power.

Monthly cost

Assuming you run 3 Grow cycles a week, that’s $2 per month in electricity plus the price of the pods and filters ($13 USD) and you’re looking at a monthly operating cost of $18 CAD or so per month.

What can you put in a Lomi?

Do

  • Fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Food leftovers, plate scrapings
  • Meat scraps
  • Soft bones (fish)
  • Soft shells (eggs, shrimp)
  • Coffee filters, grounds, tea bags
  • Soft peels
  • Rinds (watermelon, melon)
  • Nuts
  • Starches (bread, rice, pasta, potatoes)
  • Dairy (cheese, yogurt)
  • Houseplants, flowers
  • Yard trimmings

Don’t

  • Hard bones (chicken, beef, pork)
  • Cooking oils, grease, liquids
  • Fruit pits
  • Soaps and shampoo
  • Lined bags
  • Soiled diapers, baby wipes
  • Cigarettes
  • Metal, plastic, glass
  • Foil wrap
  • Hygiene products
  • Pet waste
  • Alcohol

What benefits does it claim?

You’ve probably seen their ads on Instagram, Facebook or Indiegogo page:

  • Make food waste less gross
  • Turns waste into compost
  • Produces ready-to-use, nutrient rich compost
  • Makes composting easy
  • Reduce up to 50% of the waste you send to landfill/your waste footprint
  • Reduce the volume of your waste by up to 80%
  • Energy efficient
  • Quiet
  • Break down compounds that would be released as methane in a landfill
  • Solves everyone’s food waste problems
    • Better than garbage bin
    • Gives garden/houseplants superpowers
  • Helps you save the world

Lomi speeds up the breakdown of organic waste into smaller fragments – similar to how earthworms break down and mix plant tissue into soil, except Lomi does this without the smell and mess! Fragmented waste provide more surface area for microbes to accelerate the composting process. The end result is a natural source of soil nutrients that increase the organic content of soil, helping boost plant growth and soil enrichment.

– Daanvir, Lomi Materials Scientist

Let’s review these claims one by one:

Reviewing Lomi marketing claims

Lomi: What if you could get rid of your kitchen garbage with the push of a button?

(Note: Lomi does not get rid of your kitchen garbage, you still have to put it somewhere)

Makes food waste less gross

“One of the biggest problems with green bins or dealing with food waste at home is the gross mess.” “You have a green bin program – you know, those pesky little plastic bins with leaky bags under your sink that are amazing at producing that smelly, gross liquid sludge.”

Yes, handling food waste can be smelly, leaky, moldy, and may involve flies and other critters if you don’t maintain it properly. The Lomi can certainly make the process of throwing it out less messy by drying it out and preventing most of these symptoms.

The appliance is far from maintenance free as you’ll have to clean out the bucket after every couple cycles. This can be anywhere from simply wiping it out with a damp sponge, to soaking it and putting it into the dishwasher. Sweet, fatty, starchy and sticky foods such as banana peels, meat and potatoes may clump up and cake on.

Turns waste into compost

As previously mentioned, it turns your food waste into the start of compost, which is exactly what it was before – raw food scraps are just as full of nutrients and composting potential.

Lomi claims to produce compost with a maturity index of 6 in the eco-express mode and index of 8 after 2.5 cycles of the Grow mode (48 hours).

It is unclear which maturity index they’re using, but assuming it is the popular Solvita Compost Maturity Test:

  • An index of 6 is defined as: Curing; aeration requirement reduced; compost ready for piling; significantly reduced management requirements
  • An index of 8 is defined as: Inactive, highly matured compost, very well aged, possibly over-aged, like soil; no limitations for usage

Reducing your waste

Reduce the volume of your waste by up to 80%

Yes, you’ll reduce the volume of your waste by up to 80% by shredding it and removing its water content – this might mean you save “an entire bag of garbage” from the landfill, making you feel better about how much waste you produce.

However, if you put it in the garbage, the anaerobic decomposition process will produce a similar amount of greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the volume of the waste anyway – whether or not you ran it through a Lomi first. Handy for you, not really better for the environment.

Reduce your waste footprint by up to 50%

The claim is that Lomi lessens GHG emissions through emissions avoidance (i.e. avoiding the GHG emissions caused by sending food waste to landfill), and carbon storage (i.e. healthy dirt captures carbon and improves soil health).

In 2018, only 28% of the 35.6 million tonnes of solid waste generated in Canada was diverted from landfills (65% organic materials and paper), while the remaining 72% (primarily food and plastics) ended up in landfills. Your footprint would be reduced by up to 50% if you switched from putting all your food waste in the garbage to using a green bin or garden, whether or not it is processed by the Lomi.

If using a Lomi means one of these more environmentally friendly options becomes available/feasible when it wasn’t previously, then it might be worth considering.

Canadians waste 79 kg of food per person per year and shrinking this down in size, or mitigating its impact on the environment, while a step in the right direction, doesn’t actually reduce your waste output.

Energy efficient

Whether you dispose of the end product in your garden, organic waste bin or garbage, it will likely rehydrate before starting to decompose, rendering the energy put into dehydration (most of the energy it uses) almost a complete waste.

Noise

The unit produces “less than 60 db” of sound, which is the same as regular conversation in a restaurant or office or an air conditioner from 100 feet away.

Break down compounds that would be released as methane in a landfill

Aerobic decomposition

When organic matter is kept in aerobic environments (with oxygen) it is broken down by microorganisms that require oxygen.

Anaerobic decomposition

When organic matter (food) is kept in anaerobic environments (low or no oxygen) such as buried under layers of waste in a landfill, it is broken down by organisms that can live without free-flowing oxygen, producing methane gas.

Methane gas produced from human actions makes up 25% of today’s warming and reducing our output is one of the fastest and lowest cost ways to fight climate change.

However, to help put this impact into perspective:

  • In 2018, Canada accounted for approximately 1.5% of global GHG emissions, but the 13th highest per capita (Climate Watch, 2022).
  • Methane makes up 13% of Canada’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
  • 31% of the methane produced in landfills is captured by landfill gas collection facilities and flared or used for energy. The remaining methane emissions that are emitted into the atmosphere.
  • GHG emissions from solid waste disposal (landfills) make up 3.8% of Canada’s total emissions. Methane accounts for 83% of this (3.15% of Canada’s total).

Helps you save the world (Carbon footprint)

Manufacturing

As a company, Pela claims to be carbon neutral and waste free. They are Climate Neutral Certified, meaning they’ve purchased over $7,500 in carbon credits from renewables and landfills to offset their self-assessed carbon footprint. This is intended to cover the manufacture, but not operation of the appliance.

Operation

To generate the electricity to run Lomi’s Grow mode (1 kWh) using the most eco-friendly fossil fuel – natural gas – requires the production of 413g of CO2. Running it 3 times per week for a year is the equivalent to greenhouse gas emissions avoided by 2.8 trash bags of waste recycled instead of landfilled, so operating a Lomi may be worth it if it helps you divert more than that in a year that you couldn’t or wouldn’t otherwise divert. 

This calculation differs greatly depending on the source used to generate the electricity, the number of times you run Lomi and on what mode.

Unit disposal

Pela offers to take the Lomi back at the end of its life to recycle it in their Pela 360 program. Unlike their recycling program for their phone cases, which are made of bioplastic and flax straw and can be broken down and reformed into cases, it is unclear to what extent and through what process a Lomi would be recycled.

Compare Lomi

Lomi alternatives

Lomi vs. Vitamix FoodCycler FC-50

  • Both use heat and grinding to break down food scraps
  • Both use 1 kWh or less per cycle
  • Both are made in China
  • Lomi claims to make compost, Vitamix claims to make fertilizer
  • Lomi is slightly lighter (22 lb vs 27 lb)
  • Lomi can process bioplastics, unlike the FoodCycler
  • Lomi’s has 3 modes of 3 to 20 hours, Vitamix’s cycle is 4 to 8 hours 
  • Lomi has a larger capacity (3L vs 2L)

Lomi vs. Tero

  • Both use heat and grinding to break down similar types of food scraps
  • Both are designed in Canada
  • Both use 1 kWh or less per cycle
  • Both make less than 60 db of noise
  • Both weigh 22-23 lb
  • Lomi claims to make compost, Tero claims to make fertilizer
  • Lomi’s Grow mode can preserve microorganisms, Tero kills all microorganisms
  • Lomi’s has 3 modes of 3 to 20 hours, Tero’s cycle is 3 to 8 hours 
  • Lomi has a smaller capacity (3L vs 4L)
  • Lomi can process bioplastics, Tero cannot
  • Tero offers an app-enabled “smart” version of their appliance
  • Lomi is made in China, while Tero is manufactured in Canada

Food dehydrator + food processor

You could actually save money by buying both a large food dehydrator to run your scraps through and a food processor to pulverize them instead of buying a Lomi. I’m only (half) joking.

How does the Lomi compare to composting options?

Lomi end product vs finished compost

For the majority of people, composting via a pile, tumblr, bokashi, worm bin or trenching is cheaper, more environmentally friendly and produces better compost.

Indoor

Outdoor

A properly managed compost bin will not attract pests or rodents and will not smell bad.

However, composting at home is not for everyone as some individuals may be particularly sensitive to some of the organisms in compost. Particularly high populations of molds and fungi can cause allergic responses.

For more information, check out Composting at home, Composting 101 and the Composting community on Reddit.

If home composting isn’t realistic and a local organic waste program, we recommend getting a kitchen food waste bin and curb-side green bin and giving it a try.

What is composting?

According to the Cornell Waste Management Institute, composting is a process in which microorganisms break down organic matter and produce carbon dioxide, water, heat, and humus, the relatively stable organic end product. 

Under optimal conditions, composting proceeds through three phases:

  1. the mesophilic, or moderate-temperature phase, which lasts for a couple of days, 
  2. the thermophilic, or high-temperature phase, which can last from a few days to several months, and finally,
  3. a several-month cooling and maturation phase. 

It’s a naturally-occurring process that takes time and involves both chemical and biological processes performed by the likes of bacteria, fungi, molds, protozoa and other microorganisms. The rapid composting method (known as “hot composting” or the Berkeley method) takes 18 days.

Contact Lomi

  • Email: hello@pela.earth
  • Address: 604-460 Doyle Ave, Kelowna, British Columbia, V1Y 0C2 Canada

Customer reviews

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Love it

Rated 5 out of 5
May 9, 2022

In my house hold we eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. We live in a small town that takes our compost material but we get nothing in return.
I love the lomi and I use it daily. I mix it with soil in a large bucket and use it in my garden. I cannot tell you enough how much we love our Lomo! 5 🌟 all around! Worth the money people.

Linda Exelby

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If you have a Lomi we’re interested to know your thoughts. How long have you used it and what do you think about its effectiveness, pressure relief and durability? Let us know by leaving a review below!

Sources

Over to you

We’re interested to know – how do you dispose of your food scraps? How would a Lomi change that? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

About the author

Alex Wideman

Alex Wideman is a consumer rights advocate, serial entrepreneur and educator. He has a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Queen's University. Alex is passionate about helping others save time and money and has been creating consumer-focused online resources for over 10 years. About Cansumer Read more

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