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Countertop Composters for Every Need and Budget in 2022

Food scraps and yard waste account for more than 30% of what you throw away. When thrown into the landfill, organic waste takes up space, contributes to highly toxic leachate, and releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas. But, when allowed to decompose naturally in a compost bin, organic waste becomes compost and you reduce your environmental impact. Compost is rich with nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, three nutrients vital for the sustained growth of vegetation.

What is a Compost Bin?

Compost bins are containers that store organic waste, food scraps, kitchen scraps, and other material so they can decompose into nutrient-rich soil. However, the methods used by compost bins to turn waste into soil vary greatly by container type.

How do Countertop Compost Bins Work?

When I started my first compost pile nearly 25 years ago, I kept a small brown paper bag on my countertop and filled it with kitchen scraps. Once the bag was full, I threw the bag and its contents into the compost bin in my backyard. While this option worked, I also dealt with a continuous stream of fruit flies and a not-so-pleasant smell that often permeated my kitchen. Honestly, I’m lucky my homemade compost collection bin didn’t attract ants or rodents.

These days, countertop composters are stylish, odor free, and come in four functionalities.

Electric Composters

Electric countertop composters rapidly streamline the process by combining the power of nature with modern technology to convert organic waste into fertilizer. These composters use aeration, heat, and pulverization to speed up the process and can break down waste within hours instead of weeks.

Because electric composters use heat to speed up decomposition, the resulting recycled material is void of beneficial bacteria. Each electric composter we review provides a different solution to adding bacteria back into the fertilizer.

Worm Composting Bins

Worms being held by a person

Also known as vermicomposting, this process uses worms to turn your food scraps into compost in 2 to 4 months. Worms consume fruit and vegetable scraps and excrete castings (a fancy name for worm poop). One of the best soil amendments available, castings resemble coffee grounds and are filled with natural fertilizer and beneficial bacteria.

Worms are living creatures, so you’ll need to take care of them and maintain their habitat. Worms cannot compost fat, bone, dairy, or meat waste, and they should remain in a temperature-controlled environment. But, a well-established colony can process its own weight in compostable scraps every day. And, if you’re worm colony is healthy, it won’t smell.

Bokashi Bins

Hailing from Japan (bokashi means fermentation), a bokashi bin is compost bin with a serious twist: it pickles your waste to make pre-compost

pickled bokashi compost

All food is compostable in a Bokashi system, including fruits and vegetables, grains, pasta, dairy, cooked foods, and meat. Layers of food waste are covered with a small sprinkle of bokashi bran (live microbes). Once the container is full, it is covered and sits at room temperature for 2 weeks. Because the lid fits tightly over the bucket, no odors escape.

After 2 weeks, the pre-compost material must be removed and buried in the ground, added to a compost pile, or added to a soil factory. This system is best for those who have an outdoor garden and need lots of compost.

If you want to use the compost for indoor plants or urban gardening, you will have to build a soil factory; an additional step that requires a patio or other outdoor space. The liquid must also be drained every few days.

Food Scrap Collector Bins

A collector bin is a simple container that holds your waste until you’re ready to dispose it in your backyard compost bin, community compost pile, or municipal bin. Your waste won’t be transformed from scraps into luscious soil while sitting on your countertop, but you will reduce your waste stream and help fight climate change.

What Should You Consider When Choosing a Composter?

Home composting is an efficient and simple technique to decrease your waste output, reduce your carbon footprint, and produce a valuable soil amendment. A countertop composter is small and easy to use and maintain, so you can compost all year long–regardless of the size of your house or apartment!

Cleanup

How often you clean your compost bin is essential, as is the ability to throw it into the dishwasher. No one looks forward to hand-washing a bin that’s been holding food waste for days or weeks.

Filter

Filters are made of activated carbon or charcoal and act as a natural deodorizer for your compost bin by trapping the gases that cause odors. Some filters can be washed (to remove any mold or food stuck to them), but cleaning them does not remove the trapped gases nor extend their life. Depending on their quality, filters should be replaced every 3 to 6 months.

Size and Capacity

Countertop composters are usually small enough to fit on a countertop, under a kitchen sink, or in a freezer. However, capacities vary and should be considered if you have a large family or produce a lot of kitchen waste.

Appearance

Because these composters sit on your countertop, appearance is important. I reviewed and rated composters that were well-designed and came in a variety of shapes and colors.

Price

As expected, price varies greatly based on functionality. A machine that composts waste in 4 hours costs more than a bin that stores your waste until you dispose of it elsewhere. We also considered the need for reusable bags and replaceable filters in the overall cost.

Sustainability

Choosing sustainable companies is crucial to our mission, so I looked into the companies that make each of the bins reviewed. I let you know if they have a company-wide sustainability pledge or if they have been certified by a third party.

Best Electric Countertop Composters

Pela Lomi Kitchen Composter

The Pela Lomi is perfect for your indoor space and is the best countertop composter for decomposing scraps for your garden.

The Lomi is my top electric composter because it is easy to use, runs quietly, and can compost more items than other electric composters. Pela’s Lomi countertop composter transforms food scraps, paper products, and compostable plastics in as little as 4 hours. Their zero-waste filter and commitment to carbon neutrality solidified their top position.

Price: Check latest price

Cycle Length

The Lomi has three modes:

  • Eco-Express: This mode is used for general cooked or raw food waste and produces the fastest result with the lowest energy consumption. You can add this to your green bin (if your community has this program) or add it to the next Grow Mode cycle you run with Lomi. This mode takes 3-5 hours to complete.
  • Lomi Approved: This mode is meant for food waste, bioplastics, and Lomi-approved packaging and products. This mode requires a Lomi Pod and takes 5-8 hours.
  • Grow: This mode runs at a low heat setting to preserve the microorganisms beneficial for creating nutrient-rich dirt. A Lomi Pod is required for best results. This mode takes 16-20 hours to complete.
Pela Lomi can compost plastic

Lomi recommends adding a Lomi Pod to the Lomi Approved and Grow modes to create the most nutrient-rich fertilizer possible. Lomi Pods are a proprietary blend of probiotics that improve the speed of degradation, reduce odors, and help create the most healthy output to add to your garden, lawn, or houseplants.

Filter

The Lomi has a zero-waste, refillable filter. When the activated carbon is ready to be changed, throw the used activated carbon in a Lomi cycle with your food waste and pour new activated carbon into your filter cage.

Furthermore, Lomi filters are designed to filter out odors, pollutants, and hydrocarbons such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air. 

Sustainability

As a Climate Neutral Certified company, Pela has eliminated carbon emissions related to Lomi’s production wherever possible and buys carbon offsets when they can’t eliminate emissions. Plans for reducing their carbon footprint further include making the Lomi models more energy efficient and using more biobased materials in the production of the Lomi.

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Tero and Tero Plus

We’ve ranked the Tero and Tero Plus right behind the Lomi.

While we were impressed with the mobile app, larger capacity, and zero-waste filter, those features don’t justify the higher price over the Lomi. In addition, unlike the Lomi, this composter is designed for organic waste only so paper products and biodegradable plastics cannot be composted. Finally, the Tero company was launched through a kickstarter campaign in 2019, making it the youngest company on our list. We’d like to see more company growth before committing.

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Cycle Length

The Tero and Tero Plus include one mode that dries and grinds food scraps and quickly transforms them into a nutrient-rich fertilizer. A full cycle takes between 3 and 8 hours depending on the scraps being processed.

Tero does not provide probiotic tablets or supplements. The company claims their fertilizer provides the nutrients microorganisms present in the soil it is mixed with need to thrive.

The Tero Plus includes a wifi connection and mobile app that allows you to start a cycle from anywhere, schedule your cycles, and track the real-time progress. The app also tracks your environmental impact.

Filter

The Tero and Tero Plus contain a refillable filter tray with activated charcoal that can be added to your composter’s next cycle, eliminating all waste. The dust filter and activated charcoal should be replaced every 3 to 4 months. An anti-odor filter indicator light indicates when the filter has reached saturation and should be refilled.

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Vitamix FoodCycler FC-50

The Vitamix FoodCycler FC-50 comes in 3rd in our ratings. Honestly, I hesitated to even add this one to our list but caved since so many other people talk about it. It also costs less than the Lomi and Tero, and I completely understand that price could be the leading factor for many.

First, the negatives. The FoodCycler dries and grinds organic scraps only; it cannot compost paper products and biodegradable plastics. The FoodCycler requires 3 carbon filters, none of which are recyclable or compostable. And finally, neither the maker of the FoodCycler nor the distributor (Vitamix) carry 3rd party sustainability certifications.

However, if price is the biggest factor (and you have decided against another form of composting), I would rather see a home use this composter than throw its waste into a landfill.

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Cycle Length

The FoodCycler has built-in sensor technology that monitors the dryness and humidity of the waste. Once complete, the unit will stop the cycle automatically. Most cycles take between 3 and 8 hours.

Vitamix FoodCycler Before and After

Beneficial bacteria must be replaced using a Foodilizer tablet dissolved in 16-20 ounces of water. This solution should be stored in a spray bottle and applied to all soil and recycled material mixtures. The manufacturers then recommend waiting 4 weeks before using the soil.

Filter

The FoodCycler includes three filters. A filter in the storage lid and two filters located at the back of the machine that filter the air when the composter is running. The filters are not recyclable nor compostable.

Replacing the carbon filters is essential to eliminating smells. If used regularly, filters need to be changed every 3 to 4 months when the “Change Filter” light comes on.

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Best Worm Composting Bins

Biovessel Living Composter

Biovessel Living Composter

The Biovessel isn’t just a worm bin, it is an indoor ecosystem inspired by nature, which it easily lands as my top pick. Developed after 20 months of research, this bin is the best shape for worm health and for ease of use by the home composter. Best of all, it is literally a work of art that can sit on your kitchen counter while it quickly converts your kitchen scraps to usable compost.

The Biovessel is made from recyclable HDPE and wood and includes everything you will need to get started–except for the worms. You’ll need to purchase red wigglers–the best type of earthworm for composting–and bedding material like shredded newspaper or coconut coir.

Once you’ve set up your composter, simply put your food waste into the waste inlet hole, wait a few weeks (you can keep adding food scraps to the bin while you wait), and then use the spoon provided to scoop the worm castings out of the outlet hole. Be sure to shine a light into the hole for a few minutes so the worms will dig to the lowest layers of the soil or you will get more than soil.

Worms in the Biovessel Living Composter

No filters are needed for this system since the worms break down the food long before it begins to smell.

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Hotfrog Essential Living Composter

Plastic hotfrog essential living compost bin

While the Hotfrog Essential Living composter won’t fit on your countertop, it’s my second place pick because it is compact and attractive enough to reside in any living area. With four colors to choose from, you are sure to find one that matches your décor.

Two rotatable trays are included and expansion trays are available, giving this system the capacity to compost the kitchen waste from even the largest family.

Features that will keep your worms healthy include a water retention channel that prevents bedding from drying out along the edges and support points that keep the trays raised slightly to allow proper airflow. In addition, the worm tea can be easily removed through the spout at the bottom. To make draining the tea easier, place a screen over the drain to prevent worm castings from clogging the drain.

Worms are not included with this compost bin. You will also need to purchase a coconut coir brick for worm bedding. However, no filter is required.

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Maze Worm Farm

Plastic maze worm farm

The Maze Worm Farm is another worm bin that won’t fit on your countertop. While it’s very similar to the Hotfrog, I’ve included the Maze Worm Farm because it comes without legs, making it even smaller and more compact. Optional legs raise the system to the same height as the Hotfrog.

Made from mostly recycled materials, this worm bin will fit seamlessly into any corner of your kitchen, laundry room, or hallway.

The Maze Worm Farm includes 2 rotatable trays enabling you to compost more than 8 pounds of scraps weekly once the worm farm has matured. The system includes an open drain to prevent liquid from building up and drowning your worms and a flat collection tray for collecting the worm tea. This collection system is a bit messier than the Hotfrog, but you won’t have issues with the drain clogging.

Worms are not included with this compost bin. You will also need to purchase a coconut coir brick for worm bedding. However, no filter is required.

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Best Bokashi Bins

TeraGanix Bokashi Compost Bin

TeraGanix bokashi compost bin for the home composter

After spending hours searching for an attractive bokashi bin, I finally found it! Not only is the TeraGanix Bokashi Compost Bin attractive, but it is constructed from recycled polypropylene (PP), proving that recycling PP can be a great alternative to conventional plastic. 

The kit consists of 2lb bag of EM® Bokashi, a 2.5 gal compost bin, cover, airtight presser, strainer, dosage container, drain cup, and user manual. TeraGanix sells additional bokashi bran and bottles of Effective Microorganism inoculant for those interested in probiotic gardening as well as probiotic composting.

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Bokashi Living Starter Kit

Bokashi living kitchen compost bucket

While not as attractive as the TeraGanix bin, Bokashi Living does provide informative YouTube videos and blog posts and a community forum where you can ask your most pressing bokashi questions. This extra customer support earned them a close second on my bokashi list.

The premium starter kit comes with everything you need: 2 bokashi bins, premium bokashi bran, and a complete guide to bokashi composting. Bokashi living sells additional bokashi bran and replacement lids and spigots for their bins. They also have a single bin kit if you aren’t ready to commit to the 2-bin system.

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Best Food Scrap Collecting Bins

Food scrap collection bins are best for those who have an outdoor compost pile, municipal composting program, or local compost collection facility.

Five Two Down-to-Earth Compost Bin

52 plastic compost bin no smell

This compost bin is my top pick because it covers every item on your wish list: it keeps odors masked, sits pretty on the countertop, and holds days (and I mean days) of scraps. And in the spirit of slashing waste (and added costs), this bin doesn’t require compostable bags or filters and when your bin reaches the end of its life, it’s 100% recyclable.

Best of all, if your municipal compost collector doesn’t come for a few days, you can freeze this bin and its contents, slowing decomposition and ensuring no odors escape, even from weeks-old compost.

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GreenG Life Trading Co. Countertop Compost Bin

bamboo kitchen composter

This simple bamboo composting bin is 100% plastic-free, meaning you can compost the composting bin itself! Made from renewable natural starches and ground bamboo, it emits 1/5 of the greenhouse gases used in traditional plastics manufacturing.

Replaceable charcoal filters prevent odors, though the filters cannot be recycled or composted. In fact, it was the need for these filters that kept this compost bin out of first place in my list. Aeration holes in the lid ensure proper ventilation.

This is the way to go if you want a simple, environmentally friendly compost bin that comes in three different colors.

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Alasaw Noaway Countertop Walnut Wood Compost Bin

Handmade wooden kitchen composter

This modern compost bin is a perfectly unassuming container for your kitchen. The box is crafted of salvaged walnut with a stainless steel pan and lid. This bin does not come with a filter or aeration holes for ventilation.

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Full Circle Fresh Air Odor-Free Kitchen Compost Bin

plastic composter

The Full Circle Fresh Air Odor-Free Kitchen Compost Bin is an easy-to-use bin for decomposing kitchen waste. It can open easily with the push of a button and is easy to clean. The lid provides enhanced ventilation to let oxygen move through the kitchen waste, slowing down decomposition. Improved ventilation helps reduce odors, so filters are not necessary.

It comes with five compostable bags which are required for use.

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Dustin 1.3 Gallon Kitchen Composter

food scraps in a metal dustin 1.3 gallon kitchen composter with no smell

The Dustin Kitchen Composter includes a lid that is odor and leakproof to keep out pests while aeration holes provide ventilation. Made of durable stainless steel, this bin is durable and dishwasher safe. A handle makes carrying the bin outside or to a collection site easy.

While the filters cannot be recycled or composted, they do last for 6 months.

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Conclusion

So, there you have it! The best countertop composters for your small space. Whether you’re looking for an advanced composter, are ready to become a worm wrangler, or need a simple bucket to throw your coffee grounds into, there’s a countertop composter out there for you. If you have more space and don’t mind waiting 6 months for your compost to decompose, you could think about starting a larger compost pile. So get composting!

And, if you’re ready to learn more about food waste and what you can do to help reduce waste at every step of the food chain, be sure check out our latest post on the topic: How Food Waste Happens at Every Level of the Food System and How You Can Help.

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