Tero™ was launched in 2018, stemming from a study project of two graduating students from the bachelor’s degree in product design at Université Laval. This young company aims to market a small household appliance to recover food waste (table scraps, fruit and vegetable peels, etc.). In recent years, the company received several awards and scholarships to support its development and the optimization of its device. The purpose of the device is twofold, since it allows to limit the burial of domestic residual organic matter while producing a dehydrated food powder (DFP) which can be used as a soil fertilizer for in-ground or container cultures (garden, flatbed, houseplant). To ensure its development and the marketing of its device, the company carried out a crowdfunding campaign in the fall of 2019. To support this crowdfunding campaign, the company called upon Biopterre to validate the fertilizing potential of the dehydrated food powder and to draft a highly graphic executive report explaining the results.
Once the research project was defined and confirmed, Biopterre started characterizing the DFP generated by the Tero™ device. The DFP is composed of a mixture consisting of 60% vegetables; 23% fruit; 12% animal products and 5% other table scraps. The agronomic analysis determined that the resulting DFP had a fertilizing value equivalent to that of commercial organic fertilizers with N, P and K contents of 2.7%, 1.6%, and 2.2% respectively, granting it an estimated monetary value of around $50/tonne. The analysis also revealed high sodium content and electrical conductivity which could become problematic if the DFP is applied in excess. Taking into account these analysis results, growth tests were carried out with DFP on lettuce and radish cultures in a controlled environment with two application doses, i.e., 2.5% and 5.5% (v/v). The results demonstrated that DFP amendments had positive effects on lettuce and radish plants at a concentration of 2.5% (v/v), with significant gains in total biomass (Table 1). Biomass gains were mainly in the aerial part due to the powder’s nitrogen content. The DFP is therefore to be preferred for leafy vegetables and fruit vegetables. The tests also illustrated that it was preferable to incorporate the DFP into the culture medium rather than doing a surface application.
Impact for the company
The main impact this project had on the company is the demonstration of the effectiveness of DFP as a fertilizer to support its promotional development. In addition, the involvement of Biopterre also allowed to increase the company’s agronomical knowledge and thus better support its customer service, an essential aspect for its growth. In the end, the crowdfunding campaign had an unexpected success for the two young entrepreneurs with more than 4300 pre-orders in just 30 days and, since then, pre-orders have kept coming. Even after completion of this project, Tero™ will continue its partnership with Biopterre, mainly for agronomic support.