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Household appliances create Greener homes by turning food into fertiliser and monitoring recyclable waste

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 April, 2017, 9:43am
UPDATED : Monday, 10 April, 2017, 9:43am

A few tech developers are making homes greener,  and the  trash can is a good place to start.

WLabs, the innovation incubator of Whirlpool Corporation, has developed a way to help reduce food waste in landfills by turning household scraps into garden fertiliser. The Zera Food Recycler, which debuted at CES 2017 in January, can break down the average family’s weekly food waste – estimated to be 3.5kg – in 24 hours.

Fitting alongside most kitchen countertops, the system uses  oxygen, moisture, heat, a plant-based additive, and an agitator to expedite the decomposition of food scraps. The process can be controlled via a mobile app, offering the ability to remotely operate the machine.

Brett Dibkey, vice-president of integrated business units at Whirlpool Corporation, says  Zera is one of the first products from the company’s innovation lab, which was established to “fast-track products to market that address previously unsolved and real consumer needs”. The system is being rolled out in select US markets, including Austin, Chicago and San Francisco, this month.

To help reduce food waste in the first place, LG has developed an IoT system for fridges which automatically activates a sterilisation process when it senses temperature and/or humidity issues, in order to extend food's shelf life.

British start-up Smarter Applications, meanwhile, has  FridgeCam, a wireless fridge camera that sends the user reminders about food-expiry dates via a mobile app, and also makes recipe suggestions to use up the contents of your fridge.

The Bosch Smart Home System now has a Scenario Manager, a clever addition that makes a connected home even more intuitive by checking that the heating or cooling, electrical appliances and lights are switched off when you go out.

Meanwhile, LED light maker Soraa has launched a lighting product called helia. Thestart-up co-founded by Japanese Nobel laureate Shuji Nakamura has made a light bulb and smartphone app-based controller set that adjusts lighting to help households sleep better, achieve a more convenient lifestyle, and light a house more efficiently.

Meanwhile, French start-up Uzer has devised a smart trash can companion, Eugene, which takes the tedium and guesswork out of sorting recyclables from trash.  Say you’ve got multiple disposable items from your packaged goods – what to do?  Simply scan the packaging’s barcode and this intuitive kitchen helper will tell you which parts can be recycled – cardboard and plastic trays, for example – and which parts should go into general waste, such as the thin-film plastic wrapping. 

Based on quantities and ingredients, Eugene will also keep an eye on your household’s consumption.

The associated smartphone app can also track what you’ve thrown away, and add it to your shopping list, which in turn can be sent as an order to your regular online grocery store.

Users will also be able to see their friends’ recycling and garbage habits – so you can share and compare each other’s environmental impact. Or, not.