Review: The Lomi Composter Is Best in Class

Turning food scraps into fertilizer is easy with this countertop compost machine.

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Lomi Composter
The Lomi countertop composter.

Treehugger / Margaret Badore

The Lomi is a small countertop appliance that turns kitchen scraps into compost. What sets it apart from similar compost machines on the market is that it’s designed to break down some bioplastics, something that’s challenging for many home and municipal compost systems. 

Pela provided me with a test unit for review, and Tim Fisher, the Senior Vice President & General Group Manager of Tech and Sustainability at our company, purchased a Lomi for his home. I also interviewed Pela Founder Jeremy Lang about the sustainability of Lomi. 

Read on to get all the dirt on using the Lomi compost machine and find out if it’s right for you. 

Background

Over the past decade, Treehugger has reported on and even tested many devices that promise to make home composting faster, easier, and cleaner. Sadly, most of these compost machines, usually smallish appliances that are designed to live in your kitchen to collect food scraps, haven’t been been commercially successful and either never make it to mass production or have disappeared from the market.

So when Pela, a company best known for biodegradable cellphone cases, announced a new compost machine called Lomi, I felt equal parts excitement and skepticism.  

Lomi was launched with a crowdfunding campaign on Earth Day 2021, and after reaching its initial funding goals, has now moved into regular commercial production. The initial rollout seems to be a big success, and there’s so much demand for the device that there’s often a waitlist.

Setup

Right off the bat, I noticed that the manual has no pictures, so without reading further I went straight to the Welcome videos, which are short and helpful.

I found the setup to be quick and straightforward. The main task is adding loose charcoal (your first batch is included) to the filters, which can be a bit messy, but is otherwise not difficult. From there, you just connect the power cord. You’ll want to keep the device unplugged from the wall when it’s not in use.

The Lomi's refillable charcoal filters.
The Lomi's two refillable charcoal filters.

Treehugger / Margaret Badore

How to Use Lomi

Using Lomi is really easy. Basically, you fill the bucket up with food scraps and soiled paper products like paper napkins, and press a button. Several hours later, the material will be reduced to a few handfuls of dried mulch-like shreds. Lomi can’t process bones or hard pits like those from avocados or peaches. Once the cycle is started you can’t add more food scraps until the process is complete. 

“People say it seems like magic,” said Pela Founder Jeremy Lang. “But all we are really doing is adding energy.” The device dries and shreds your food, basically speeding up the process that eventually turns scraps into soil. 

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

The Lomi has three settings: A default setting, a setting for bioplastics called “Lomi Approved,” and a setting that produces compost that’s fully cured and ready to be applied to your garden, called “Grow Mode.” Lomi comes with a compost accelerator called LomiPods. 

The default mode is called Eco Express. This cycle is the fastest, requires no compost accelerator, and in my experience can process any ratio of dry and wet food scraps. However, you shouldn’t use this cycle for bioplastic, and the resulting mix isn’t quite ready for your plants. The cycle typically takes 5 to 8 hours.

If you want to use Lomi to make a top-dressing for your garden, use the Grow Mode. This setting does require you to pay some attention to the type and ratio of scraps you’re adding to the bucket. For the best recipe for your plants, Lomi recommends only adding fruit and veggie scraps, along with coffee grounds, eggshells, and plenty of brown paper—no cooked foods or starches. You’ll also want to add a LomiPod, and if the resulting mix still seems too wet, you can run the cycle a second time. 

The third mode is the Lomi Approve mode, which is what you can use to break down bioplastics. The name is a reminder that you should only put “Lomi Approved” bioplastics in the device, which means products that Lomi has tested and confirmed will break down in the machine. This cycle requires a LomiPod, and you’ll also want to add a quarter cup of water, and your batch shouldn’t contain more than 10% bioplastics. The Lomi Approved list isn't super long, but the Pela team is continuing to test bioplastics and adding to the list.

The Results

The default setting is extremely straightforward and can process any mix of material except bioplastic. It works great, and isn't stinky. If you put enough coffee grounds or citrus in there, it actually smells nice. The resulting compost is not quite finished, so I added these batches to my outdoor compost pile, where it disappeared into the mix within just a few summer days. 

It took me two attempts at the Grow Mode setting before I got something I felt good about putting directly on my plants. My first batch turned out way too wet, something like the consistency of cookie dough. I ran this same batch again in the Eco Express mode, which then seemed normal, but I wasn’t sure how finished it really was, so I decided to add that batch to the outdoor pile and start over.

The second time, I was much more careful to add plenty of dry browns in the form of cardboard and brown paper. This second attempt took a long time (it ran for over 12 hours), but turned out sweet-smelling and super fluffy. I’ve added it to some flowers in deck boxes, and two weeks later the plants seem happy and thriving.

To test the Lomi Approved cycle, I tried adding a bioplastic wrapper from the approved list, as well a small plant-based wax paper baggie that wasn't on Lomi's list but is certified to biodegrade in a home compost. Both items virtually disappeared into the mix, although a few of shreds of what I think were the wax baggie (based on the color) turned into something that's more crinkly and papery than the output of the other cycles.

Some papery bits left at the end of the Lomi Approved cycle.
Some papery bits left at the end of the Lomi Approved cycle.

Treehugger / Margaret Badore

Jeremy Lang recommended putting the results from the a Lomi Approved cycle into municipal compost if that’s something you have access to, or the trash if you don't. I’m also testing a batch in my backyard compost. I’ll update this review with the results of my test in a few months. 

Here in New York City, the Lomi is great for processing food scraps in an area where rats are a real concern (I also use a bokashi bucket to accomplish the same goal). In rural Colorado, Tim Fisher says his family worries about bears getting into food scraps, but the Lomi lets them compost without this concern. It has also cut down on his family’s volume of waste that needs to be taken to the dump. 

Overall, we’re thrilled with how well the Lomi works. “The Lomi has not only solved my family's composting challenges at home,” says Fisher. “But it's made us think a lot more about what we eat, how much food we make, and has even encouraged us to eat more of our leftovers. Actually seeing the portion of our waste that's from uneaten food has been eye opening!"

FoodCycler vs. Lomi

The closest competitor to Lomi is the FoodCycler FC-50, which can now be found with a Vitamix branding. I have experience using both, and while I loved the FoodCycler, the Lomi has several standout features that the FoodCycler does not.

Both products reduce the volume of food waste, bring it closer to becoming soil, all without smelling and within a day. However, the FoodCycler can’t process bioplastic, and its finished product needs curing before you can add it to plants. However, the FoodCycler FC-50 is about $200 cheaper, which is a significant savings. 

Smaller bones, like those from fish and chicken, are one thing that the FoodCycler can process that Lomi cannot, but I personally have not tested this. 

Both devices have replaceable filters, but the Lomi’s filter material is itself compostable, meaning the Lomi’s filter system is more sustainable. 

Sustainability and Climate Impact 

When it comes to any electronic appliance, we should always ask if the resulting sustainability benefits outweigh the upfront carbon costs of manufacturing the device. Pela is a Certified Carbon Neutral company, meaning the company purchases carbon credits to offset the manufacturing and shipping of every Lomi. 

Then there are the benefits of composting, which can further reduce the greenhouse gas pollution associated with our food system. When I posed the question to Lang, he said the company is further working to answer the question of how Lomi affects the climate by commissioning a third-party evaluation. While the full report is still being worked on, he said the preliminary data suggests that using Lomi for just a few cycles in the average American household could also offset the emissions associated with making the device.

That’s because so much of our food waste (which is heavy and wet) is getting hauled in trucks that burn fossil fuels, often to landfills where the food waste contributes to methane emissions. Even in cities where food scraps are composted, using a Lomi to reduce the volume and weight of what's sent to compost would cut transportation emissions. The same goes for anyone who lives in a community where individuals drive their own trash to the dump.

Meanwhile, making compost can benefit soils, and the Lomi could be a great tool for households that aren't able to compost otherwise. Many people who don’t compost say it's because it's either too hard or they don’t have the outdoor space, but Lomi can help address both concerns. 

Then there’s the promise of reducing plastic pollution. Today’s bioplastics still don’t present a straightforward solution. One reason is because they often can’t be broken down easily in many settings, requiring high levels of heat that are often only found in large-scale industrial compost facilities. As a result, many municipal composting programs don’t accept bioplastics.

Lomi is hoping to bridge the gap. By pre-processing even a limited set of bioplastics, this material is now ready for just about any municipal compost facility to finish. 

Final Verdict

If you are a successful home composter who already puts very little organic material in the trash, you don’t need a compost machine. You’re already processing food waste in the most eco-friendly, lowest-emissions way possible. 

For anyone else, Lomi can cut your carbon footprint. “It quite literally turns my food waste to dirt and does so quickly and without producing a smell,” says Tim Fisher. "The Lomi is flawless. Really.” 

Why Trust Treehugger?

The Treehugger team has over a decade of experience reporting on, reviewing, and using different compost systems. Two Treehugger team members spent several months using the Lomi at home before writing this review, and we will continue to update it based on the machine’s long-term performance.

Associate Editorial Director Margaret Badore is obsessed with composting and uses a range of compost systems in her home and garden.

View Article Sources
  1. "The FoodCycler Dos and Don'ts." FoodCycler.

  2. Compost – Combatting Climate Change.” US Composting Council.