Let’s be honest, composting is gross. We all know we’re supposed to do it but the tiny bins don’t mask smell nearly as well as they should and the thin compostable baggies never feel durable enough to shoulder the repulsive sludge that’s developed in them by week’s end. This experience has evidently become so universal, in conjunction with the rising need to properly recycle food waste, that an SF-based startup Mill has decided to step in and, hopefully, improve the process.
Mill, which launched January 17th, is the result of two founders were sick of smelling their own garbage throughout the pandemic and decided to create an inventive, albeit expensive, solution to remedy the problem. They’ve created a bin that turns food scraps into nutrient-rich Food Grounds overnight alongside a membership that helps you ship them to your local farms so they can feed chickens.
Interested? They’re currently accepting reservations for bins through their website. The bins are slated to ship out in spring of 2023.
What Is Mill?
In its essence, Mill is a food waste disposal service that’s cleaner and more convenient than compost. Rather than disposing of decaying, smelly food scraps via a thin green compostable bag you put them all in a fancy machine and they get dehydrated and grinded up.
“It’s a really practical way to have a better experience at home and to have a positive impact on the planet,” said Harry Tannenbaum, Mill’s co-founder who spoke with SPY over email.
How does it work exactly? There are two crucial steps.
1. Everything Gets Small and Dry
Using an internal grinder and dehydrator, the Mill bin takes your food scraps and shrinks them, dehydrates them, breaks them down and spits out dry and compact food scraps that take up far less space in the Mill kitchen bin than regular food does. It’s designed to take a while to fill up so ideally, unlike a conventional compost bin, you’ll only need to empty it every few weeks.
Tannenbaum noted “We landed on this particular design, specifically, because we loved how it’s a bottomless pit. It takes us weeks to fill it up in our apartment.”
2. You Mail in Your Dried Food Scraps
Once your bin has reached capacity you, you empty your scraps into a bag, put that bag in a box and mail it using a box and prepaid return label provided by Mill. Shipping is included in your membership.
It sounds easy enough. The price is high for glorified composting, but I guess if someone hates the stink from their compost bin that much, and wants to be environmentally-friendly, I can see a use case for it.
Where Did Mill Come From?
Mill came from a desire, and public need, to make disposing of food waste responsibly less gross. Everyone knows it’s the right thing to do but no one wants to do it because it’s disgusting. Their team is trying to change that.
“Food isn’t trash. Waste only happens when materials get mixed. What if we could intervene upstream, and if behavior change is the answer, what could be unlocked if there was a different kind of bin in your house?” said Tannenbaum.
The team at Mill knew people weren’t going to go above and beyond with some complicated product. It had to mimic what we already do with trash: put it out of sight, out of mind.
“We knew it had to be just as easy as what most people are used to: step on the pedal and toss your kitchen scraps into a bin.”
This convenient solution is expensive, but I admire Mill’s team for creating a sustainable solution that doesn’t ask too much of people. Because god forbid we need to add a few extra steps to our routine to help the planet.
If you’re curious about trying out Mill, you can reserve your bin now on their website and start using it as soon as spring of this year.
“At Mill, we are focused on preventing waste, and we’re starting with food. It’s about making the right thing, the easy thing to do. We are building an entirely new system to prevent food from going to landfill and a pathway to keep those nutrients in the food system. This is just the beginning.”