You may have heard of the importance of composting your household waste, but have did you ever think that some are taking it a step further by using a composting toilet? This may be newer thinking for some countries but many areas use this as a regular practice and it may find its way to your home.
What Is This All About?
What is a composting toilet? Well, it would be any system that can convert human waste into organic compost that would be usable in soil. This occurs through a natural breakdown of organic matter into its essential minerals. Micro-organisms and macro-organisms do this over time through various stages of oxidation and localized pockets of aerobic breakdown.
Can This Be A Safe?
Even human waste can break down to compost, eventually, but is it safe to use a composting toilet? Well here are some concerns that may need further study:
Coming into contact with human waste that has not been composted properly or is composted incompletely may be dangerous. Bacteria other disease carrying pathogens may be present.
Human fertilizer should not be used for food crops, but may be okay around non fruit-bearing trees and shrubs. This fertilizer should only be used when it is completely composted. However, there are different schools of thought on how much time is truly needed.
While composting, human waste can reach temperatures of 104-122 degrees Fahrenheit (40-50c). In some situations, the compost will need to be pasteurized and sterilized before use.
A few other interesting facts to examine are:
Why many developed countries would not be comfortable with the this idea because of some of the concerns, it is a known fact that when the process is done correctly, then it does not pose any more risk then the waste removal systems already in place. Education would be the most effective way to convince people of the benefits of a composting toilet.
Many areas may not allow a composting toilet without a septic field. The gray water would still need a place to be treated, however many reputable manufacturers of composting toilets would be able to help navigate the regulation concerns.
A properly designed composting toilet system that does not need water would completely reduce the waste to a mere 1-2%, in about 4-6 years, with a variety of processes involving bacteria, fungi, worms, and other micro and macro-organisms.
The amount of electricity needed may outweigh the benefits of a composting toilet. However, if a community is in an arid climate then water conservation would be the main concern while a community that has limited electricity capabilities may not think that a composting toilet would be a good idea.
A compost toilet system is not a new idea. Historically there are designs from the 1800’s. There has always been a need to find a proper way to dispose of human waste and maybe the technology of a composting toilet is not a bad idea.