Composting Toilets

January 8, 2011

Composting toilets capture fecal matter mixed with organic material such as sawdust in vaults or pits.  Under properly managed conditions, heat is produced and aerobic decomposition takes place so that excreta is transformed into humus-like compost suitable for use as a soil amendment.  No-mix composting toilets separate urine from feces, reducing the overall volume of excreta and making it easier to deal with and to recycle in agriculture.

ReCode Oregon is working with state code officials to update regulations regarding site-built composting toilets in Oregon.

Learn More   The past 50 years has seen a huge and irregular body of literature on this topic.  For composting toilets to emerge from a practical artisnal backyard technology and go to scale in contemporary society requires careful R&D.  Fortunately it is underway.  

A concise introduction to Composting Toilets is part of the SSWM Toolbox.

The Composting Processes section of the SuSanA Forum is a place where anyone can post questions and get answers from experts and practitioners.

An Unsolicited Design Review of Composting Toilets & Composting Methods This short, illustrated work by Mathew Lippincott and Molly Danielsson makes the case for the shift away from water-based sanitation and details the options.

Compendium of Sanitation Systems and Technologies. By Elizabeth Tilley et al.  Eawag, 2008.  This introduction to composting toilet technologies is a useful tool for making informed decisions.  It includes 52 illustrated Technology Information Sheets that describe the main advantages, disadvantages, applications and the appropriateness of technologies required to build everything from simple toilets to comprehensive sanitation systems.

Un guide complet sur l’assainissement écologique is a free publication from Association Pierre et Terre.  This copiously illustrated 64-page work on contemporary European household composting toilets is available only in French.

Construction of an Ecological Sanitation Latrine Water Aid’s 60-page technical handbook describes the rationale and provides illustrated practical guidance for constructing a variety of latrines, including urine diverting.

How about a Cradle to Cradle Design Certification for Toilets?   Short blog post poses sensible challenge.  After all toilet technologies involve the recycling of nutrients essential to all life.


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    Public Hygiene Lets Us Stay Human (PHLUSH) was founded in Portland, Oregon and today collaborates with groups across North America.

    PHLUSH is a member of the World Toilet Organization and a partner in the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance.

    Our Mission Through education and advocacy, PHLUSH helps local governments and citizen groups to provide equitable public restroom availability and to prepare for a pipe-breaking seismic event with appropriate ecological toilet systems.

    Our Vision Toilet availability is a human right and well-designed sanitation systems restore health to our cities, our waters and our soils.

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