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Green Cone Solar Digester

Don't want to compost, but still want to handle your food scraps in your backyard? Have an area in your yard that gets a decent amount of sun? Try a Green Cone Solar Digester! Green Cones are in-ground digesters that break down ALL food scraps, including meat, bones and dairy. They differ from composting in that they don't produce compost, and therefore don't require any "browns" or carbon material like leaves, paper or straw, or turning. Rather, the nutrients from food scraps are released into the soil during decomposition, and nourish the plants nearby.

The basket on the bottom is buried in the ground, enabling microorganisms and insects in the soil to break down the food scraps underground. The cone is double-walled, which traps heat and speeds up decomposition, as well as provides insulation in the winter. Once installed, you simply open the lid, add food scraps, and close the lid. That’s it! A sunny location and good or modified drainage (i.e. amending surrounding soil with gravel and sand) are also critical to the process. Installing hardware cloth (wire mesh) around the base adds an extra layer of deterrent to wildlife. Decomposition quickens during warm weather and slows during cold weather. But since much of the material is underground, it never stops altogether — even in VT!

ACSWMD sells Green Cones at the District Transfer Station for $125 (includes a free kitchen collector). Learn more about on the Green Cone, including installation instructions in the Green Cone Manual (PDF).

Check out this video from the Central Vermont Solid Waste Management District about how to install a Green Cone.