There’s a new composter in town, and it’s not the mucky, icky, smelly outdoor bin you might be imagining. Odourless and quiet, Tero easily and quickly transforms food waste into a rich and natural fertilizer that nourishes your plants, lawn, and vegetable garden in just a few hours, indoors and on your kitchen countertop. Best: it’s a Canadian brand! Second best: it won’t mess up your décor! We chatted with founders Elizabeth Coulombe and Valérie Laliberté to find out more. —Noa Nichol
Hello ladies! Please tell us a bit about yourselves to start.
We are two friends from university who decided to work together for our final product design project at Université Laval. Both concerned about the environment, we decided to start our company to bring the product we created during our studies to more people and provide a solution to the challenges of home composting. Passionate, determined, and ambitious, we are now two women entrepreneurs motivated to revolutionize food waste management in every household in the world.
When and why did you create Tero? What aim were/are you aiming to fill?
We created Tero during the last year of our bachelor’s degree. For our final project, we decided to solve an environmental problem. We chose composting because we didn’t have an easy solution to compost our food waste at home. In our city, we didn’t have municipal collection, and in an apartment, we didn’t have outdoor space. We realized that we weren’t alone, other people had the same problem and couldn’t compost either even though they are concerned about the environment. After interviews with waste control experts, brainstorming sessions, sketching, and prototyping, the result was the Tero food recycler, an easy and clean solution for every household.
How does Tero work? What makes it different from traditional (and even other modern) composting methods?
Tero is an award winning, innovative, countertop, electronic composting device for every household. The process is very simple. You can put all your food waste into the device throughout the week. When it’s full, you just push a button, and the appliance does everything for you. The result is ready to use fertilizer to feed any of your green spaces. Tero makes composting easier and more accessible for those who are limited by municipal services or the lack green spaces available and are deeply committed to contributing to a greener and more eco-responsible future.
Tero natural fertilizer and compost are similar since both amendments are from the processing of organic matter. Both solutions are beneficial for soil and plants because they provide organic matter and essential nutrients. However, there are differences in the transformation method and in the outcome. Composting is a biological process requiring the input of microorganisms for its transformation, which is not the case with the Tero device that operates by a completely automated process. Tero produces an organic matter, rich in nutrients that is especially great for plant growth. The result of composting is a product that contains less nutrients than fertilizer. Tero fertilizer can be used alone or together with compost matter.
In that vein, in creating Tero, what were some of the biggest hurdles/challenges you faced (both in the process and the actual invention of the machine) and how did you overcome/solve them (tell us about the odour issue!)
The first major challenge we faced was financial. When we finished our bachelor’s degree, we had no money to start our company and develop the technology of our product concept. We participated in many student contests and raised funds to turn our dream into reality. The financial challenge was solved by the great respond from our backers during our crowdfunding campaign in 2019, when we raised over $1.75 million.
Our next big challenge was to develop our product with the high-quality standard we wanted for our food recycler. Creating an appliance that controls all types of odours from all food waste under all conditions was a major challenge because there are no odour engineers. However, after many months of testing, we are very proud to have a completely odourless unit. Tero uses a fully sealed lid plus an innovative two-stage filtration system that easily removes any smells.
Finally, the pandemic was certainly a challenge in launching our production. We have had to overcome many challenges in procurement and transportation.
What can and can’t we put in our Tero machines? Are there any top dos and don’ts you can share with us?
Tero reduces food waste volume by 95 per cent including leftovers including:
- Fruit and vegetable trimmings (including peels)
- Cereals, grains, nuts (without shells) and legumes
- Eggs and eggshells
- Coffee grounds and the interior of tea pouches
- Solid dairy products, such as cheese
- Avocado pits
- Corn cobs
All these foods are very easy to process and beneficial for soil and plants, because of all the nutrients they contain. Tero is equipped with patented dual blade technology that can speed up the grinding process, turning food waste to fertilizer in as little as three hours. The robust system can even break down small chicken bones (thigh bones, wings, or carcass) and fish bones. The device stands out from several other organic waste recycling solutions because it can also process raw meat and fish. Our patented drying technology emits heat high enough to destroy all human-damaging pathogens found in this type of food.
There are very few foods that cannot be processed by Tero. Foods like beef bones, walnut shells or peach pits, which are rock hard. The great thing is even if you put one of these items in by mistake, Tero will detect it and stop the process until it’s removed!
Some tips for getting the best fertilizer and an optimal cycle include:
- Adding a variety of foods to each cycle
- Using moist foods such as whole fruit and vegetables, sweet food, and starchy food in smaller quantities
- Cutting fibrous foods (banana peels, green onions, asparagus, celery, etc.) into smaller pieces before placing in the Tero
When organic waste when it is not recycled in homes or by municipalities, it is sent to landfills or to be incinerated. Tero aims to help reduce this footprint through our solution to the food waste challenges many of us face in our home. Besides the technology, which is unlike anything on the market, Tero also offers a large bin, so you can recycle more at one time and WIFI connectivity for those who want to integrate Tero as part of their smart home system.
Who is Tero for?
Tero is for anyone who wants to reduce their footprint and do their part for the environment but feels helpless when faced with the lack of options for recycling their food waste at home. Tero makes food recycling easy and accessible to those who are limited by municipal services or lack of available green space and who are deeply committed to contributing to a greener, more environmentally responsible future.
What is your ultimate goal with Tero?
With Tero, our vision is global. We want to change the behaviour of people, by encouraging them to take this small step to accomplish the bigger goal of reducing food waste.
We are now available throughout North America. In the near future, Tero products will be available in Europe and gradually worldwide. As an innovative company, we plan to expand the Tero brand to offer more eco-friendly and innovative products.
Final, personal question: what’s the best thing you’ve grown using Tero-made compost?
With all the testing we have done during product development, we have been lucky to use Tero fertilizer for almost two years now. We have been using and sharing this fertilizer with our friends and family and have seen great results in their gardens and plants. With the Tero fertilizer, we can see that the plants are much fuller, and the leaves of the plants are bigger. During our user tests during product development, one of our testers had revived a plant that had almost died thanks to the addition of the fertilizer she had created with her Tero prototype at that time.
Win! A $595 Tero Composter!
Congrats Georgina S. of North Vancouver, BC, who will receive a $595 Tero composter! Please note: if you are the winner, you will receive a DM (direct message) on Instagram directly from @vitadaily.ca. Please be wary of fake accounts, which often use similar handles with an extra or missing letter, number or symbol. We will never ask for a payment or for your credit card number, and we will never ask you to click through a link. If you are unsure whether you have been contacted, via Instagram, by us or a fake account, email us before responding.