The Re-feed Urban Waste Project by Fanny Nilsson

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The Re-feed
A compact composter and plant feeder for indoor urban spaces.
The Re-Feed is your personal food waste processor that grinds organic waste into instant liquid fertilizer for your plants. Originally inspired by lacking food waste recycling infrastructures in flats and high-rise housing in Central London, the Re-Feed provides a simple alternative to sending waste to landfill or composting.
The design was inspired by the psychological phenomenon called the ‘Tamagotchi’ effect, which focused on evoking emotional responses while using an object or completing everyday tasks to encourage behavioural change. In this case, feeding the Re-Feed creates positive feelings by allowing the user to fulfil their responsibility towards the plant in a sustainable way.
The Re-Feed can be moved to feed any plants in a space due to its rechargeable battery and interchangeable charging plugs.


Photos and text courtesy by Fanny Nilsson

1. How exactly does the system work? The organic waste is blended with water to create the instant fertilizer. How long this takes depends on the waste used and how much of it there is. Things that can be ground up in the Re-Feed are vegetable and fruit scraps and peelings, egg shells, coffee grind, tea bags and any food leftovers that are not saturated in oils and fats. Once the fertilizer is made, the plug is removed from the plant pot and the feeding spike is inserted. By pressing the feeding button the fertilizer is pumped through the feeding tube through to the plant. Any food waste that isn’t directly absorbed is stored in the vessel behind the feeding spike. The Re-Feed also has a function that allows it to be programmed to feed at certain times. This makes the product very useful for when you are away or extremely busy; as urban lifestyles often are.

2. Why is a battery necessary to power the device?  
I decided to include the rechargeable battery in my design to allow for flexibility. Plants are not often located near power sockets and I felt this was a suitable solution that also underlines that the Re-Feed is primarily like a life support system for the plant, as well as the other way around.

3. How many parts are in the system and what are their respective functions? 
The main parts of the Re-Feed include the blade which grinds up the waste, the on/ off and ‘feeding’ button, a hook for the feeding tube when it is not in use, the tube and feeding spike with a small collection vessel for fertilizer- which allows the plant to absorb nutrients when it needs them -and separate flower pots. Inner components include the motor which allows the blade to run, a pump for the feeding of the fertilizer and a receiver and transmitter that communicates with your electronic devices over the internet to allow you to program your Re-Feed.

4. I imagine some people are reluctant to compost at home because of the associated smell. Have you tried to address that concern?  
The smell associated with food waste is one of the biggest barriers for people to try outdoor composting in the first place, let alone inside their home. The aim of the project was to address this negative association with a positive one, which is embodied by the nurturing of the plant. On the practical side, I have sourced an additive that can be added to the ABS polymer before it is injection moulded, which neutralizes odours. Also, the design of the Re-feed allows it to be easily cleaned/ rinsed to get rid of any smells and the lid acts as a barrier for any odours if it happens to be in the Re-Feed for a longer period of time.

5. Did you design special flower pots as well?
I did design flower pots to underline the concept of the plant relying on the Re-Feed as a type of life support. When the feeding spike is placed into the hole it is reminiscent of an umbilical cord. In addition, the placement of the hole was deliberately chosen to allow the fertilizer to be absorbed closer to the root of the plant, meaning it received it’s nutrients quicker.

6. Are you still a student, or did you graduate this year?
I graduated this year, just last week in fact!

7. Would you like to put the prototype into production? 
Who wouldn’t like their work to go into production!? Based on feedback I have been receiving I am aware that this would require some development, but I would not turn down the opportunity to explore this further!

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