Lomi Electronic Composter – Are The Claims True?

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Robert Pavlis

The Lomi electronic composter by Pela is one of the more popular kitchen units offered today. They have great marketing that promotes the the machines benefits. It is good for the environment, it produces “strong” fertilizer, it reduces the amount of kitchen waste and it even composts some types of compostable plastic.

This post will look at some of these claims to see if they are true.

Lomi Electronic Composter - Are The Claims True?
Lomi Electronic Composter – Are The Claims True?, Source: Lomi, used with permission

What is Lomi?

Lomi is a new type of kitchen appliance called an electronic composter, although Lomi does not use this term to describe their unit. Instead it is just “Lomi”, as in “Lomi does the food cleanup”.

I have described electronic composters before in Electric Composters – An Eco Win or Unnecessary Appliance? These machines claim to make compost in a few hours right in your home. That is so much easier and it’s a big appeal for people who do not have space for traditional composting.

In brief, you place your food scraps in the machine, turn it on, let it churn for a while and you have instant compost. How great is that?

Soil Science for Gardeners book by Robert Pavlis

What Does Lomi Claim?

I will review some of their claims in the following sections. I won’t review every claim, and some of their claims are clearly valid. The machine does work, and it does “something” to your food scraps. It does not smell, it reduces the volume of food scraps and it is a useful product in certain situations.

I first contacted Lomi a couple of years ago to get some of their studies to confirm their claims. At the time they told me they were just going into production and had not done any. I contacted them a week ago and again asked them to validate some of their claims. I did receive a reply containing more marketing material but no studies to prove claims. I am quite convinced they don’t have any supporting studies, but if and when they send any, I will definitely update this post with the information.

A search in Google Scholar found no scientific studies that mention “Lomi composter” or “Pela”.

Does Lomi Reduces the Amount of Waste?

They say, ” You’ll be shocked at how much less waste you produce each week.” They claim an 80% reduction of waste. They then show you this diagram to confirm the 80%.

Lomi dries kitchen waste to reduce the volume of material
Lomi dries kitchen waste to reduce the volume of material, but not the weight of organic matter, Source: Lomi

What Lomi does is remove the water from kitchen scraps, and they might do some mixing to reduce particle size. This reduces the volume by 80%. However, on a weight basis the amount of organic material does not change so there is no “reduction of waste”. This is similar to making dried fruit. The dried fruit loses water, shrinks down, gets lighter in weight due to water loss but the organic matter (sugars and nutrients) are still in the fruit.

Water in such material is not an environmental issue. The weight of the organic matter is.

Does Lomi Help the Environment?

Lomi claiming it is better for the environment
Lomi claiming it is better for the environment, source: Lomi Environmental Impact pdf

In one of their brochures they claim that “Lomi reduces the carbon footprint of your food waste by 65%”. They use slight of hand marketing to convince you of this. Let’s have a closer look.

The above diagram, taken from their brochure, compares the equivalent CO2 produced with and without using Lomi. At first glance it looks like Lomi is good for the environment, but if we have a close look we see that they are comparing apples to oranges and surprise, oranges (i.e. Lomi) are sweeter.

The left side sends the kitchen waste to landfill where it decomposes anaerobically resulting in the production of methane. Methane is 25 times worse for global warming than CO2 (from Compost Science for Gardeners). The right side processes the kitchen scraps through Lomi and puts the material in the garden where it produces CO2 instead of methane (due to aerobic conditions).

But …. that is not a valid comparison. They should be comparing two methods with the same destination, one with and one without Lomi.

If the kitchen scraps are added to the garden in both cases, one using Lomi and the other composting, the Lomi (using their own numbers) produces more CO2 because of the electricity (hydro) requirement. In this case it is not better for the environment.

If the material is sent to landfill in both cases, they might be equal in their CO2 production because the electricity Lomi uses reduces the weight of material (due to water loss) which in turn lowers the diesel fuel consumed to move it to landfill. Since both options have the identical amount of organic matter, they will produce identical amounts of methane.

I hope readers can see right through such hocus pocus marketing.

Does Lomi Make Plant-friendly Dirt?

It is interesting that on this website Lomi never claims to make compost, but they do make that claim in their videos. They come close by saying things like “Make composting convenient”, but I did not find a single clear statement where they say their machine makes compost. More on that later.

What they do say is that Lomi makes “dirt”, as in “With just the push of a button, you can turn your food waste into plant-friendly dirt”.

So what is dirt?

There is not one definition. Some say it is the spider webs, bits of soil, dead insects, pet hairs and human dead skin that you sweep up from floors. Historically dirt was another word for feces. I doubt Lomi wants to claim they make either of these types of dirt.

Dirt is also commonly used in place of the word soil, as in “you just dragged some dirt in from the garden” or “the carrots you just harvested are dirty”.

They claim that they make “Lomi soil“. Clearly they don’t make soil. Soil consists mainly of sand, silt and clay and Lomi can’t make these.

They go on to say “Lomi soil and compost have a lot of similarities.” To be honest their marketing is quite confusing. They clearly do not make soil. They also don’t think they make compost, although they claim to have the benefits of compost. I guess for them it is good enough to say that they make some type of Lomi “stuff”.

What does Lomi make? Like all other electronic composters, they make dried kitchen scraps.

Sodium is a Essential Plant Nutrient!

Really???

They claim, “There are at least three essential nutrients in each batch of Lomi soil that support your plant and soil health: Nitrogen, phosphorus and sodium….. Sodium supports the plant’s metabolism.”

Taken from Lomi website - I am sure they will update this as soon as they see my post.
Taken from Lomi website – I am sure they will update this as soon as they see my post.

Sodium is quite toxic to plants! It is clear that their marketing material has not been reviewed by anyone who knows about plants or soil.

Is Lomi Soil Good for Plants?

They claim the material that they produce (it is not soil) is good for plants and even say, “Over application of Lomi soil will not burn plant leaves or roots“.

They also say, “Apply Lomi soil at a 1:10 ratio to your soil”. In their videos they warn you not to use more than this.

So which is it? You should limit it’s use to 10%, but at the same time it “won’t burn leaves and roots”? If it won’t burn roots then you should be able to use more of it. In fact the standard compost test is to mix 50% with soil and then plant seeds in this mix. If the seedlings grow properly, it is finished compost.

The compost test is illustrated in this video for a different brand of electronic composter. I plan to redo this test with Lomi.

YouTube video

Does Lomi Compost Plastic?

They make a big deal about composting bioplastic but do they really compost it?

To be clear they only claim to compost Lomi Approved Plastic and they provide a list of such products. They say, “Lomi Approved products are non-food compostable products that can be efficiently broken down by Lomi and transformed into compost.”

You can only add small amounts of plastic (at most 10%) along with other kitchen scraps. When the process is complete, using the Lomi Approved mode which take 5-8 hours, you can place the material in the green bin. Why not add it to your plants or put it in the garden? If it was really composted, it would be safe for plants?

Bioplastics (compostable plastic) has to be composted in very special commercial composters that can operate at high temperatures. Most municipal composting facilities in North America can’t meet these requirements and don’t compost so-called compostable plastic, as I have explained in Is Compostable Plastic Really Compostable?

I asked Lomi about this – do they really compost bioplastics? This is what their Lead Technical Specialist said, “Processing these certified compostable products in Lomi accelerates the breakdown so they will turn to compost more efficiently when they end their life in a commercial/industrial compostable compost facility.” What? The plastic actually composts in the commercial composting facility and not in the Lomi as they claim?

Lomi does NOT compost bioplastics into dirt as they claim.

The Magic of Lomi Pods

There are numerous electronic composters on the market but Lomi is one of only a few that use pods or an equivalent product. This is what intrigued me about Lomi in the first place. Will the pods make that big of a difference?

Pods are small tablets that are described as “a proprietary blend of probiotics that improves the speed of degradation“. That is marketing speak for “microbes”.

You probably know that composting is really done by microbes. Adding extra microbes to the composter seems like a good idea. This is also coupled with a longer and cooler run cycle. The claim is that the extra microbes speed up composting and that compost is produced at the end of the cycle.

The claim is suspect for two main reasons.

  1. Composting is a slow process and even with lots of microbes in a compost pile it takes weeks or months, not a few hours. Even the most efficient, highly controlled systems take a couple of weeks.
  2. Kitchen scraps are covered with billions and billions of microbes already. Adding more to traditional composting does nothing.

Based on compost science, adding a pod should make no significant difference, but it might. So I asked Lomi for evidence of this claim. They either don’t have any or are unwilling to provide it.

Does Lomi Make Compost?

Lomi asks that question, “How Long Does It Take Lomi to Compost? “. They imply they compost, but they don’t call their finished product compost? Very strange!

They go on to say, “Many of the electronic countertop composters on the market today are, in fact, glorified food dehydrators.” I agree with this statement. These machines don’t make compost – they make dehydrated kitchen scraps. Is Lomi any different?

They say, “Lomi is different. Lomi provides everything your food waste needs to become strong fertilizer: microorganisms, heat, aeration, and moisture.”

First of all, there is no way this machine makes fertilizer. That claim is wrong.

Secondly, the machine dries the material, removing water in the process. The machine does NOT add moisture.

All of the electronic composters on the market provide microbes, heat and agitation which would help aerate the process. I am sure Lomi would claim that other machines don’t add microbes because they don’t use Lomi Pods (see above), but the food scraps put into these machines are naturally covered with billions of microbes. That is why it breaks down all on its own.

The only difference between Lomi and other machines is that Lomi adds extra microbes in the form of pods and their processing time is extended; 16-20 hours for Grow Mode instead of a 3-5 hour cycle for other brands.

Do these differences improve the process? That is the key question.

Unfortunately, Lomi provides no proof that there is any difference between their process and that of other units. They also have not provided independent studies that compare their own cycle with and without a pod.

Based on compost science adding more microbes will have a limited effect on the process. Extending the processing time will have a slight affect on the composting process but consider this; an efficient hot composting process takes weeks and even months. They claim to do it in under a day. If the extra time used by their unit really made a difference it would be very easy to show this with some simple laboratory testing – but the results of such testing are not available.

I doubt Lomi  makes compost because their cycle time is far too short, even with added pods. Lomi also seems unconvinced that they make compost because they keep referring to their end product as dirt or soil. They also limit the use of their “dirt” to 10% for growing plants. If it were true compost you would be able to use 50% or more.

Until Lomi, or someone else produces some test results, we have to assume they simply make dried kitchen scraps similar to other machines on the market.

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Robert Pavlis

I have been gardening my whole life and have a science background. Besides writing and speaking about gardening, I own and operate a 6 acre private garden called Aspen Grove Gardens which now has over 3,000 perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees. Yes--I am a plantaholic!

19 thoughts on “Lomi Electronic Composter – Are The Claims True?”

  1. Thank you for this. I have had a Lomi for 2 years. I fell for their ambiguous marketing and I agree with everything you have said about the dubious claims thwt Lomi produces anything beyond dehydrated food. In the garden, lomi product becomes immediately moldy if not mixed very well with healthy existing soil. It can’t be put in a backyard composter in any significant quantity without becoming moldy and stinking up my entire yard. I did an experiment where I mixed the grow cycle+pod product 50:50 with sterilized coconut coir, and a second batch with the eco cycle product, and attempted to germinate seeds. I only put vegetable material, a few fruit rinds, and coffee grounds in both batches, no meat or dairy. Within 5 days everything was covered in copious mold and had to be thrown away. There was no difference in mold growth between the 2 cycles. Not to mention the fact that the bucket becomes progressively harder to clean, requiring the use of either chemicals or multiple kettles of boiled water to free up the rotors from a rind of baked-on, rock-hard material at the bottom. This should be factored in to the carbon footprint.

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  2. Thanks, I kept getting irritated every time I saw the lomi ads and I found myself arguing with the ad. Seeing the ad so many times had me thinking I was missing something because that’s obviously not where soil comes from and you can’t make compost in hours. Came here to double check, good to know my brain still remembers things! They are lying and misleading, just like I thought they were. Disappointed to see them as sponsors for so many YouTubers. These machines do not compost!

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