Is urine diversion really the future?
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UDDT stands for urine diversion dehydration toilet. UD stands for urine diversion.
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TOPIC: Is urine diversion really the future?

Is urine diversion really the future? 19 Dec 2013 22:07 #6755

  • KeithBell
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Hello folks, you've probably all tackled this issue before, but my experience is very limited, so I hope to learn.

As a professional recycler the past 25 years, I've been part of the trend to simplify programs where what were once multi-material, source-separated programs have become single stream (pun intended). These changes in the recycling industry allowed huge increase in public participation, but they were also driven by technology making it possible to process mixed recyclables. I fondly remember the days when we sorted white from colored paper and envelopes were unacceptable for recycling.

I understand there are benefits in diverting urine such as odor control and utilization as fertilizer. Here's a current Dutch project:

But systems such as Sun-Mar actually promote mixing of urine with feces. Perhaps a combination of both approaches is ideal to avoid the need to process liquid overflow.

Looking forward to learning your views, thanks in advance!

Re: Is urine diversion really the future? 20 Dec 2013 06:37 #6757

  • JKMakowka
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Sep 2013
With declining oil reserves, fertilizer prices will continue to rise and use of urine as an alternative will become inevitable in many areas.

But I also think that we will not see wide spread adoption of typical UDDTs in households that currently already have a flush toilet. It is rather a technology for first time adopters in water stressed (natural or economic) areas. What I do think is that many people will add a (male/female) urinal with urine collection to their bathrooms though.
Krischan Makowka
Technical Adviser at the Uganda Water and Sanitation NGO Network (UWASNET)

Re: Is urine diversion really the future? 20 Dec 2013 23:43 #6769

  • muench
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Dear Keith,

That was an interesting point you made. But I think urine and faeces are so distinctly different that they are not comparable to brown paper and white paper, but rather to e.g. glass and paper - if you want to make that analogy with solid waste recycling, i.e. these are two materials that are vastly different and that cannot be easily separated again (or processed) once they have been mixed...

Like Krischan said, I also don't think that all sanitation systems in the future will be or should be with urine diversion. I think that vacuum systems for example, could also be quite interesting for urban, high-end systems.

But for many other more low-cost applications, urine diversion is a great approach.

I think what Martina and I wrote in the GIZ technology review on urine diversion in 2011 still sums up the purposes of urine diversion (UD) quite well (;type=2&id=875):


Many of the composting toilet systems do not separate urine (like the Sun-Mar system that you mentioned - as far as I know it is a composting toilet), although some of them also employ this option or encourage use of urinals like Krischan said. (Composting toilets are different to urine-diverting try toilets, UDDTs)

Oh and regarding the link you posted to that video where they collected urine in Amsterdam: this was really interesting for me. I couldn't figure out exactly who was behind it (a certain water board) and whether this was just a one off promotional thing or if this is a longer-term projct. Very interesting. I wish our Dutch colleagues would keep us more informed about what is happening in the Netherlands on these urine recovery activities...?

Added later: see here some answers in a related thread:


P.S. If you are a recycling expert: can you please tell me if it's necessary to take out that plastic "window" in business envelopes before throwing the envelope into the waste paper recycling bin? I have been wondering about this for a while. My mom claims it is no longer necessary but I don't trust her.
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant
Frankfurt, Germany
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Twitter: @ostella42
Member of SuSanA (
Last Edit: 26 Dec 2013 18:03 by muench.

Re: Is urine diversion really the future? 22 Dec 2013 02:27 #6774

  • KeithBell
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Hi Elisabeth, plastic windows are fine for paper recycling. The problem with envelopes originally was the adhesive. Your mom is hereby vindicated.

I think it comes down to increased participation vs. value of urine collected separately. Surely, it would increase participation if urine and feces were commingled as we say in the recycling industry. But the value of urine may drive separate collection. It would be good to know just how valuable urine is compared to mixed material.

Regarding Dutch water-based sanitation technology, I'm very skeptical about the use of anammox bacteria in sewage treatment from a health standpoint. *

Do we really want to add this type of bacteria to our bodies when it's known to produce rocket fuel?

Water-based sanitation needs to come to an end. The most recent frightening issue in the news is antibiotic resistant superbugs found in China's wastewater, NDM-1, something previously known in India:

* The discussion on Annamox has continued in this separate thread:
Last Edit: 26 Dec 2013 18:29 by muench.

Re: Is urine diversion really the future? 23 Dec 2013 10:42 #6776

  • AquaVerde
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Dear Keith,

May you explain the mentioned health problems with "...anammox bacteria in sewage treatment from a health standpoint." I am not an expert on that.*

Thanks in advance.

Happy X-mas & Happy New Year

* The discussion on Annamox has continued in this separate thread:
Sanitation-Solutions without external energy
Low-Tech Solutions with High-Tech Effects
"Inspired by Circular Economy"
Last Edit: 26 Dec 2013 18:10 by muench.

Reaction to SuSaNa post on phosphate recovery by Waterboard Waternet in Amsterdam 23 Dec 2013 15:11 #6784

  • hester
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Dear Elisabeth,

I read SuSaNa postings with interest, but I post very little myself. You had a complaint about the Dutch, for us not being active in sharing information from the Netherlands on SuSaNa. I don’t know what kind of news from the Netherlands would be interesting to share on SuSaNa. For your information, I send you a link to Waternet, the only Dutch institution that combines a water operatorship with waterboard function, for the region Amsterdam and surroundings. They recently opened a Phosphate factory for the production of struvite from wastewater. I only found the news in Dutch, but they may have an English press release avaible.

My question to you: are you aware of the existence of the Dutch Nutrient Platform, and do you receive updates? In the Netherlands, this platform consists of 32 members, companies from the (agricultural and public) waste sector, knowledge institutes, governmental institutions (see The Nutrient Platform is looking for business cases based on nutrient reuse. As Aqua for All, we participate in the international agenda, that is, make knowledge on nutrient recovery and reuse available in developing countries.

In any case, as an attach I send you a ‘Save the Date’ for the agenda, Symposium on January 23 in Berlin ‘Circular Economy in the Cites’- in case you did not receive it yet.

Kind regards,
Mrs. Hester Foppen
Program Officer

Aqua for All
Koningskade 40
2596 AA The Hague
The Netherlands

s: hester.foppen
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Last Edit: 23 Dec 2013 18:27 by muench.

Re: Is urine diversion really the future? 24 Dec 2013 06:21 #6789

  • Marijn Zandee
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Dear Keith,

As Detlef, I would also like to know if you have any more information on the health risks of annamox *. I would not consider myself an expert, but I did work on the annamox process a little. Considering that this technology is researched and piloted in two very safety conscious countries (The Netherlands and Switzerland) I would be very surprised if there was a serious public health issue that was not addressed. Further, annamox bacteria do exist in nature, but are hard to cultivate because they require a very specific environment. For example they are very sensitive to oxygen. So I don't think they would proliferate outside the reactors at the WWTPs.

Further, I think that the statement that water based sanitation must end is not particularly helpful. There are problems with it, but it has also brought enormous health benefits. I am a horses for courses type of thinker and I think that in places where there is no very big lack of water, water based sanitation may be a very good idea, much depends on the local conditions. If the researchers in the Netherlands can recover nutrients, raw materials and energy in a centralized process in an economically viable way, this may be a very big and positive breakthrough in how we deal with waste.

Finally, yes the multi-resistant bacteria are a huge concern. I live in Nepal and visit China and India, so if anyone should be scared it is me . I do not however think that blaming the existence of these multi-resistant bacteria on water based sanitation is correct. This has much more to do with the indiscriminate use of antibiotics. For example: people do not finish their prescribed courses, use the wrong medicine for their ailments, etc. This is also true for the veterinary use of antibiotics. I am not sure if outlawing water based sanitation would bring a halt to the spread of such bacteria.

Kind regards

Marijn Zandee

* The discussion on Annamox has continued in this separate thread:
Marijn Zandee
Technical Advisor
Nepal Biogas Promotion Association (NBPA)

Deutsche Gesellschaft für
Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
Kathmandu, Nepal

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Last Edit: 26 Dec 2013 18:30 by muench.
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