Yes toilets can be made green too. And yes even human waste coming from the billions of toilets in the world causes an environmental problem. And billions of dollars a year get wasted in taxpayer’s money to treat all of that sewage so that it can be disposed of while doing less harm to the environment. And then there is all of the drinking water which gets wasted with every flush. Sun-Mar and BeeVi toilets may provide an alternative.
We have all heard about the damage to the environment caused by all of the animal waste. All of the excrement coming from the countless cows and chickens bred around the world for their meat, dairy and eggs is contributing to climate change. And much of the waste gets spread around during rain storms and so forth, eventually polluting many areas, including drinking water supplies. But what about human excrement?
Well now a few companies are working to do something about the problems caused by human waste. They are developing new toilets that not only use the human waste for things like compost, thereby avoiding new pollution, but are also finding ways to turn human excrement into new sources of energy.
Reuters has reported on how urban and environmental engineering professor at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) Cho Jae-weon has designed the BeeVi toilet — an eco-friendly toilet connected to a laboratory that uses excrement to produce biogas and manure. First the BeeVi toilet saves all that water wasted when flushing as it uses a vacuum pump to send waste into an underground tank. Once in the tank, microorganisms break down the waste into methane, which can then be used as a source of energy for powering a gas stove, hot-water boiler or even a solid oxide fuel cell.
Cho told Reuters that, “if we think out of the box, feces has precious value to make energy and manure. I have put this value into ecological circulation.”
Meanwhile, Sun-Mar is a company which offers composite toilets. These are toilets usually reserved for use in remote areas like national parks. They were first intended for places not connecting to a local water system through plumbing and to prevent the environmental impact caused by using ditches in outhouses or by simply going to the bathroom in the woods. People do not realize that even their poop can have an adverse effect on local ecology.
But now people can use such toilets even in their own homes. The waste produced can be reused for fertilizer.
Sun-Mar toilets are designed not only to harness the natural processes involved in the braking down of wastes and to optimize and accelerate them. Sun-Mar explains that toilet waste is over 90% water content. This can be evaporated and carried back to the atmosphere through the vent system. The small amount of remaining material is recycled into a useful fertilizing soil.
This system saves all the water that gets wasted with every flush, the costs and energy wasted by sewage treatment, and leaves behind a practical product. Even if not used for fertilizer, what remains can be disposed of in a less expensive and more environmentally friendly way that what is usually done by the water companies.