Make compost, not waste

A new product for simple and clean composting of kitchen waste has emerged from the Kärcher Innovation Lab. The trick is a clever combination of natural processes and modern technology.

Kalea fill

Why not have a complete rethink?

At first glance, a composter for the kitchen does not have much to do with the other products for which Kärcher is famous. Yet KALEA, the automatic kitchen composter, is the logical answer to a problem that practically everyone is aware of, namely that waste containers can be the source of quite foul smells, particular during warm spells. The regular cleaning of the waste containers is also not a pleasant task. It is inconvenient, and contact with dirt or even mould and vermin can hardly be avoided. This is particularly noticeable in apartment buildings, where many people share waste containers.

But why not have a complete rethink? This is exactly what they have done in Kärcher's Innovation Lab. This was possible because in the incubator, which was created around two years ago, they are also looking for solutions beyond the existing product portfolio. Here, Kärcher has created a room in which committed teams of employees are developing innovative business and product ideas in a start-up atmosphere.

In this creative free space, search for a simple cleaning solution for waste containers gave rise to a product concept that is completely new for Kärcher, and which goes far beyond the original approach. Instead of fighting the problem, the kitchen composter KALEA is going straight to the cause: organic waste in the kitchen.

There are already various prototypes, and the preparations for launching the product on the market are in full swing. A separate company was created specifically for the marketing of the first mature product from the innovation forge.

KALEA team

How the Kärcher Innovation Lab works

In interdisciplinary teams, customer problems are examined by employees. By means of continuous project development in accordance with a start-up concept, initial approaches to solutions are devised followed by development into an independent business model. The most promising concepts are then worked on in the Lab until they are ready for the market. Kärcher thus develops – independently of daily business – potential for the future.

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Kalea earth

The vision

Why look for a cleaning solution if it is unnecessary for waste and dirt to be generated in the first place? "The fact that we were able to develop a finished product from this idea is thanks to the free space that the Kärcher Innovation Lab offers us," explains Christian Gärtner, one of the three KALEA Managing Directors. "From organic waste to compost – From waste product to nutrient provider for plants. Our vision is not only to free humans from the unpleasant handling of organic waste, but also to convert such waste into something positive by means of composting. With the KALEA kitchen composter, we offer a simple, clean and sustainable solution for dealing with waste within one's own four walls. And by generating their own compost within just 48 hours, customers get great added value on top."

KALEA development

From the vision to the product

"In our search for a better cleaning solution for waste containers, we got to the point where we asked ourselves what customers really want," remembers Gärtner. Therefore not the original question was pursued, but an answer that would not let the problem arise in the first place. "The KALEA kitchen composter is the best and above all holistic answer to the needs and wishes of consumers," says Gärtner.

The path from the first product idea in the Innovation Lab to the creation of KALEA GmbH was naturally not a straight line. But the team wanted to use the opportunity and invested a great deal of hard work into implementing the idea. The beginning was marked by a converted kitchen machine with which experiments were carried out with kitchen waste from the Kärcher staff canteen. On the basis of consultations with composting experts from the Fraunhofer Institute and numerous trials with other prototypes, the technical concept was continually honed. At the same time, customer wishes were never lost sight of and several surveys were carried out with potential customers and trade partners.

The product

The KALEA kitchen composter combines biology and high-tech in a unique way. The unpleasant handling of organic waste is now a thing of the past, instead kitchen waste is converted to nutritious compost. The whole process is odour-free, clean and very uncomplicated for the user.

The waste is converted to compost in just 48 hours. The machine can continue to be filled at any time. Practically everything generated in the kitchen as organic waste, for example fruit and vegetable waste, but also meat, dairy products and cooked food, is processed. Everything that normally ends up as organic waste is converted to compost, which can be used for room, balcony and garden plants.

The new machine combines features and advantages that in sum previously did not exist with other solutions. Operation is child's play, energy consumption is low, and the modern design also means the machine can be placed in the kitchen in an optically appealing way.

 

Did you know?

Almost 50 per cent of the waste generated worldwide is organic waste. The separate collection and recycling of organic waste is still nowhere near established in all countries, even in Europe. Where's the problem? The improper disposal of organic waste is more dangerous for the climate than CO2.

If organic waste is disposed of in landfills, the lack of oxygen and the resulting poor decomposition produce methane. Methane is a strong greenhouse gas – on a time scale of 100 years, it warms the earth around 28 times more than carbon dioxide and in 20 years it will be 80 times more harmful. By means of direct composting, KALEA makes the environment-friendly difference.

KALEA product

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