US start-up Mill wanted to create the ultimate solution to household food waste when they designed this container that dries all leftovers so they can be sent to the company for a new purpose.
Developed by two former Nest employees, the Mill Bin slowly heats and mixes all food waste in a low-power cycle to dehydrate and shrink the waste, meaning the bin needs to be emptied less often.
After a few weeks, when the bin is full, the user dumps the resulting “meal set” into a prepaid box and arranges for a pickup to ship back to Mill as part of a membership-based service.
The process provides an alternative to landfilling and composting food, which may require certain conditions or combinations of waste to work effectively.
The Company is currently working on the scientific and regulatory processes to convert the soil into a commercial chicken feed ingredient.
Mill’s goal is to keep leftovers in the food system and reuse them in the most valuable and resource-efficient way.
While the trash can is in use, Mill promises there shouldn’t be any noticeable odor — even when the leftovers are heated.
The evaporating water and air from the bin is passed through an odor management system that includes an activated carbon filter before the air is expelled through an exhaust fan at the rear of the bin.
Mill was founded by Matt Rogers and Harry Tannenbaum early in the pandemic when, according to Tannenbaum, the duo were “stuck at home staring and smelling our own garbage” and became increasingly obsessed with litter.
“We looked at what constitutes landfill,” he told Dezeen. “The single greatest occupant is food, and our kitchens at home are the number one source.”
“And what’s worse, when food ends up in a landfill, not only are we wasting all the nutrients and resources that went into growing it and getting it to your plate, we also release methane,” he continued.
Methane accounts for about 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, but because of its effectiveness, it is estimated that it traps about 86 times more heat in the atmosphere than an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period.
Rogers and Tannenbaum started thinking about all the ways to improve food waste management at home—”no smell, no flies, fewer ways to take out the trash”—and tried to offer all of these solutions in one package.
“Some of these things are built into the hardware, where the bucket is turned into a bottomless pit,” Tannenbaum said. “80 percent of food is water, so when it’s dehydrated, it shrinks significantly, so you have less trash to take out.”
“Some are more subtle, like impact tracking so you can see how much you’re wasting and become a better shopper and start saving money at the grocery store,” he continued.
The duo designed the bin in-house, aiming for a minimalist look and a “friendly and approachable” pill shape, with the LED display interface hidden under a wood-veneer lid to avoid drawing attention.
Mill was recently launched and is currently only available in the US.
Other innovations in waste disposal in recent years include the Townew bin, which automatically closes and changes garbage bags, and the prototype Taihi bin, which composts waste using a Japanese fermentation process.