It has been 3 months since I received my Reencle indoor composter. As promised, here is my longer-term review of the product: overall, I love it.
To refresh, the Reencle is an indoor electric composter that uses a self-perpetuating microbial bed to break down food waste into usable compost. The company that sells it indicates that it is similar to Bokashi composting, but because they create ideal conditions, the system works quicker. Bokashi composting is a fermentation process for composting. The company that makes the Reencle is Hanmi Flexible. They are a company in Korea that has been in business for over 30 years dealing with appliances. The original Reencle was created and sold in 2017 in Korea. Hanmi Flexible released Reencle Prime in 2022 and this has been released for international sale. The Reencle US website can be found here: https://reencleus.com/collections/reencle
Thus far, my Reencle has worked perfectly well. It breaks down most foods within a 24-hour period, some foods taking longer depending on the fiber and complexity of the item, but the machine gets them busted down eventually. The only thing with the Reencle is there is definitely a learning curve with the machine. This machine technically runs on a live microbe that you need to actually take care of and culture...so it is sort of like a simple pet. In fact, some friends jokingly ask me from time to time how the "Reencles" are doing. Starting off, I was pretty tenacious and worried about accidentally killing them, but have since relaxed and not fretted as much over them. Pretty much, as long as it is breaking things down it is fine. If it seems to slow a bit on the breakdown, let it have a day to catch up. It is pretty easygoing.
I have emptied the Reencle multiple times over the past 3 months. Relatively easy process. Just use the included shovel to scoop out the compost. When the weather was warmer, I just mixed it into the yard waste compost pile in the backyard. Now that it is winter, I have a bucket in the garage where I am storing the compost. I bought a compost sieve in order to not take particles that are not broken down enough that I then place those back into the machine.
The customer service has been phenomenal. As noted, there was a bit of a learning curve and I have been able to ask every question and get a quick response. Usually within a day.
The system overall works very well, but there are some design issues that I have noted. There is a stirring arm that runs through the machine, but just like with a stand mixer, it does not hit the corners. I make it a habit to scoop out the corners towards the middle of the machine from time to time so things aren't just stuck in the corners. The buttons on top are sensitive and have been pressed by accident. My dog would stick his nose up to sniff at the machine and hit the power button, turning the machine off. I have since bought a stand to lift the machine up higher where the dog can't hit the buttons. I also have to keep the auto-open foot sensor turned off because the dog would just be constantly opening the lid.
Does the system smell?
Nope. There is a triple-filter system that clears out any scents. I cannot smell anything when the Reencle is closed. Obviously, if you open the lid, you can smell that for a moment, but I do not find this to be an awful smell. It mainly smells like Brewer's yeast or a fermented smell. Some foods can alter that scent for a little bit of time. For example, I put in some stale donuts and the Reencle has smelled like brown sugar for about a week now. Brassicas, like cabbage or broccoli, can have a strong scent as well. There are a couple of ways to fix any strong internal smells. You can hit the Deodorize button and/or add spent coffee grounds to the machine.
What kind of upkeep do you have to do?
The main upkeep you have to do for the Reencle is to keep the microbes hydrated and occasionally clean the internal filter if it is dirty. The external carbon filter also needs to be changed yearly. The microbes do require water to be added to the system from time to time if you notice it getting to dry or if you notice a grinding sound coming from the system.
How much noise does the system make?
The system is super quiet. I seriously cannot hear it running. If you do hear it making some noise, it is usually because the microbes are too dry and you just need to add some water.
What foods can I not put into the Reencle?
This question gets a little confusing for people. There is a list of "not recommended" items that come with the Reencle, but some of those items are because Korea does not consider certain things to be food waste and are classified as general waste. For example, eggs shells are on the list of not recommended, however, they can be placed in the Reencle and they do break down over time without issue. You cannot put in bones, hard pits, feces, or plastics. I personally have put in small amounts of paper and paper towels that have broken down over time. You can put in fatty foods as long as you just don't put in a lot at one time. You can also put in meat, realizing that beef takes longer to break down than chicken.
How much food can go into it and what do I do if I am on vacation?
The system can handle up to 2.2 lbs of food per day. You do not have to feed this thing daily, but if you are going to be away for a while there are processes in the manual on how to store your Microbes.
Do I have to buy more microbes?
Nope. The system is self-perpetuating. When you empty out the compost, you are supposed to leave some of it in the machine (There is a minimum line). This keeps microbes in the machine that continues breaking down food waste. Only in extreme circumstances would the microbes actually die off causing them to need to be replaced and more microbes can be procured from the company.
Overall, I really like the Reencle. Training everyone in my house to use it has been some work. It is nice to be able to put my food waste into the machine. Considering that I am not really able to put food waste outside in a suburban neighborhood, this has been a nice investment for me.