The 4 Best Compost Machines of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

The Lomi by Pela is our testers' top choice.

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Best Compost Machines

Treehugger / Chloe Jeong

Treehugger Tested & Approved

Treehugger's Best Overall is Lomi by Pela. The Vitamix FoodCycler is also great, for about $100 less.

It’s a sad fact, but food waste is a major issue around the world. From banana peels to spoiled leftovers, it adds up more quickly than you might think. In fact, the EPA estimates that 42.8 million tons of food waste ended up in landfills or combustion facilities in 2018, the most recent year for which we have data.

But reducing food waste isn’t always easy. Composting it is a great option, but not everyone has a home with space to accommodate a traditional compost bin. Depending on environmental conditions and what you add to the pile, composting can take months to a year to break down into a usable form.

In many other countries where living space is at a premium, such as Asia and Australia, electric food recycling machines, also known as electric composters, make short work of food scraps. Not only do these machines reduce the amount of waste that must be tossed, the finished product also can be added to gardens as a nutrient-rich compost or soil conditioner instead of ending up in a landfill.

Unfortunately, some models have not made it to the United States and others (like the NatureMill) have been discontinued. We've tested the top two models currently available in the United States.

Here are the best compost machines, according to our testing:

Best Overall

Pela Lomi

5
Pela Lomi

Pela

After using the two most popular compost machines on the U.S. market, Lomi is the clear winner. Not only can it reduce the volume and weight of food scraps and soiled paper (like greasy paper bags or used paper napkins), it can even even process some bioplastics, which are otherwise hard to compost at home. Our testers found that it's easy to use, doesn't stink, and turns kitchen scraps into a soft and light mulch-like substance.

The Lomi's three modes are what sets it apart from its main competitor, the FoodCycler. The first mode is the Eco Express, which is the fastest, and can process just about any food waste, including cooked grains, fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds, and egg shells. The output can be cured and used on plants, or added directly to compost. The second setting is the Grow Mode, which can take about 12 hours but can be used to make finished compost that goes directly on plants. The final mode is call "Lomi Approved" and can be used to break down bioplastics that have been tested and approved by Pela.

The main con of this machine is that it is more expensive than its competitor. It also can't process bones or hard fruit pits like those from peaches or avocados.

Price at time of publish: $529

"The Lomi is flawless. Really. It's quite literally turns my food waste to dirt and does so quickly and without producing a smell." ~ Treehugger Tester
Food scraps before and after being processed by the Lomi.
Food scraps before (left) and after (right) being processed by the Lomi's default cycle.

Treehugger / Margaret Badore

Also Great + Less Expensive

Vitamix FoodCycler FC-50

4.4
Vitamix FoodCycler FC-50

Amazon

Toss fruit cores, peels, dairy, and even chicken or fish bones into the dishwasher-safe waste bucket, press a button, and the unit gets to work drying, grinding, and cooling scraps. The end result is a pleasant-smelling mulch-like substance that's ready to be worked into the soil. The entire process takes several hours. It only requires one cubic foot of space (about the size of a bread machine) on your counter, and its stainless finish is attractive enough to blend in with the rest of your kitchen.

A carbon filter lid controls odors. The unit does require electricity, but it’s quiet so it’s not annoying. It comes with a 3-year warranty. The 10.5 cup capacity bucket is small though, so if you have a big family, it may be tough to handle all your scraps, and it can't handle bioplastics like the Lomi. However, it's about $100 less expensive than our Best Overall pick.

Price at time of publish: $400

“Using a FoodCycler is kind of like magic. It’s impressive how well it works to create a nutrient-rich fertilizer that can be used in many ways around the garden. However, I wouldn’t add it to indoor houseplants without letting it cure first. A friend of mine tried this and it attracted fruit flies.” ~ Treehugger Tester

Best Industrial

BioCotech BioSpeed

BioCoTech BioSpeed Industrial Composter

BioCoTech Americas

For businesses and other institutions that want to compost large amounts of food waste, paper products, and landscape trimmings, BioCotech Americas makes cutting edge composting machines. From resorts to universities, these large-scale machines can convert hundreds of pounds of waste into a processed compost product in 24 to 72 hours. Organic matter can be added to the device continuously, and requires relatively little daily labor other than loading material in. 

The BioSpeed is available in four different models, which increase in size and capacity. Some configurations have a hydraulic lift option, which can dump a collection bin into the machine. The smallest model, the BioSpeed M1, measures 80.1 long x 36.5 wide, stands 62 inches tall, and requires 2 feet of operational space around the base. The BioCotech team works with each of its clients to determine the right size and configuration for each installation. The company also helps clients determine how the compost output can be used, including connecting clients with farms or landscapers if the compost can’t be used on site.

Because of the electrical components, the machines need to be located indoors or be fully shielded from precipitation. The company also offers a prefabricated BioSpeed that’s housed in a 20-foot shipping container for more remote applications.  

The compost output of the BioSpeed depends on what types of materials are being put in. If the input is a diversified food waste stream, the resulting compost can be applied directly to soil or landscaping, without requiring a curing period. 

The machinery is currently made in Sweden, and the company is looking to bring manufacturing to North America.

Best Low-Tech “Machine”

Aerobin 200 Composter

4.5
Aerobin 200 Composter

Earth Easy

Though not exactly a machine, this 7-cubic foot capacity hot composter has a patented aeration tube that runs vertically through the composter to speed up the process compared to the typical compost bin. The system allows the bin to retain heat generated by the aerobic composting process. Materials heat up quickly, so they break down more quickly, and you don’t have to turn or agitate the contents.

It’s also insulated to enable year-round composting and requires no electricity. The reservoir base collects 2 gallons of compost tea, which can be drained through the spigot. The unit, designed in Australia, has a 3-year warranty.

Price at time of publish: $310

Final Verdict

Although options are limited in the United States, the Lomi by Pela is our top pick for its quick processing that occurs with a touch of the button. However, the Vitamix FoodCycler FC-50 is also an excellent composter, for a lower price.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • How do compost machines work?

    These machines dry, grind, and cool food waste into as little as a tenth of its original volume. For countertop devices, most cycles take between three to eight hours, so you can run more than one cycle per day. The finished product can be mixed in with garden soil to provide nutrients and improve soil texture. They range in size from countertop models to stand-alone units that are about the size of a traditional compost bin.

    Most can process fruit and vegetable scraps, brown paper, soft bones, and small amounts of other food waste such as pasta or bread. They can’t handle fibrous materials such as pits, nuts, watermelon rinds, or pineapple leaves. You should also avoid putting bioplastics and pet waste in a compost machine.

  • What are the pros and cons of a compost machine?

    Compost machines break down food scraps much faster than traditional compost bins, which may take several months or longer to reduce waste to usable compost. They also can help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with food waste, by cutting down on the weight of material that needs to be trucked to either a municipal compost site or a landfill. Even discarding the output of a compost machine in the garbage (and not adding using it in a garden) may be a net reduction in reducing carbon emissions.

    These machines typically don’t take up a ton of space, and they use little electricity. However, some units can process only small amounts of food scraps at a time. In addition, they're much more costly than traditional composting methods, which can be done essentially for free.

    In addition, the finished product should cure for a minimum of a week (so you have to save it elsewhere in a bin) before being added to your garden. It’s also suggested to wait several weeks before planting seeds or transplanting seedlings to allow further breakdown of the scraps. Like a traditional composter, you shouldn’t place animal proteins, such as fish or chicken skin, in the machine if you plan to use it as a soil amendment. Finally, avoid adding high sodium foods, which retain sodium levels and affect plant growth.

  • Can I use the output from a compost machine in potted plants?

    Yes, as long as you let it “cure” for a week or more after removing it from the machine. Add an inch or two to the top of the soil, and it will break down slowly as you water. One exception is the Lomi's Grow Mode, which outputs finished compost that you can put directly on plants.

  • Are food composting machines worth it?

    If you don’t already have a compost system to process food scraps, a compost machine can benefit the environment by reducing how much trash is trucked to landfill. Food waste in landfills is also a significant source of methane, a powerful form of greenhouse gas pollution. However, if you already have a home composting setup that works for you, you don’t need a composting machine.

    In terms of cost, composting machines use very little energy to run. If you pay to have your trash hauled away by volume or weight, or drive your trash to the dump, a compost machine could potentially save you money. Businesses that pay high costs to haul away organic matter are positioned to save the most money by investing in an industrial-scale compost machine like the BioCoTech BioSpeed. 

Why Trust TreeHugger?

At Treehugger, we know that composting is a powerful solution to environmental issues like food waste and climate change. We strive to help our readers learn about the many composting options available to them. Our writers and editors have first-hand experience using a wide range of composters.

Arricca SanSone specializes in writing about home, shelter, and gardening. To make this list, she exhaustively researched the market to determine what machines are most effective and easily available.

Margaret Badore is Treehugger's Associate Editorial Director. She is obsessed with compost. For this article, she interviewed industry representatives and has spent months testing compost machines, including the FoodCycler and the Lomi.