Using urine from school UDDTs as fertiliser for apple and cherry trees in Gansu Province, China - update on a successful business
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TOPIC: Using urine from school UDDTs as fertiliser for apple and cherry trees in Gansu Province, China - update on a successful business

Re: Examples of ecological sanitation at scale 29 May 2012 10:30 #1597

  • bayeboah
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Dear All,
I have been following this discussing on examples ecosan projects to scale (forum.susana.org/forum/categories/17-fer...-sanitation-at-scale) and I will like to bring to your attention an ecosan in China with commercial potential.

The project started in 2009 and it is said to be one of the largest ecosan projects in china financed by local charity (Soho China foundation). 10 school ecosan toilets were built in 2009 and an additional 20 in 2010 in 30 schools located in different areas of Tian Shui city in China. Currently, about 20,000 pupils and teachers are using the 30 toilet blocks equipped with 28 standard squatting urine diversion toilets. The using of UDDTs is a part of the Soho China Foundation Tian Shui Children Virtue Training project. Cleanness is regarded as one virtue that should be achieved with the newly-donated toilets with hand-washing water supplies. This is a good initiative to that can impact and transfer knowledge to younger generations and I think this is an important aspect of pushing and maintaining the ecosan agenda.

The project has been transformed into a commercial venture by using the urine from the school toilets to fertilise apples farms around the city and selling the harvest. About 100 apple trees in a 1,200 m² orchard have been cultivated, applying about 40,000 litres of urine from the SOHO School ecosan toilets. About 4,800 kg of apples were harvested and sold to middle class consumers in big cities. some of it were sold on an online marketing blog. Reports from the project show that consumers are satisfied with the apple quality with 50% repeat purchasers. With the positive consumer response a profit margin of about 25% was made which is good. Also more orchard owners in the area are growing apples with the urine because farmers reduce the use of chemical fertilizer which implies a reduction in farm expenditure. They now pay only for the transportation of urine to their respective farms after the harvest.

It is also known that SOHO China Foundation would donate more toilets to the schools after the smooth operation of the initial toilets. This means the project could enlarge its scale of operation in the near future.

To me the project seems to have to have features that can make it a successful ecosan project at scale and I will be very happy to see it expand.

New photos of the project have been added by Scott Chen in May 2012. Here is the link to the photos on flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/gtzecosan/sets/721...903/with/5890558581/
The photos show you how training of the pupils, the collection and transportation of the urine, applicaition of the urine to the apples in the fields, harvesting and marketing of the apples.


P4134580 by Sustainable sanitation, on Flickr


P1010583 by Sustainable sanitation, on Flickr

Regards
Bismark

Note by moderator: read more about this project and see contact details in the May ecosan newsletter of GIZ, which you can access here:
www.giz.de/Themen/en/9403.htm
Bismark
Last Edit: 07 May 2014 09:04 by muench.
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Using urine from school UDDTs as fertiliser for apple and cherry trees in Gansu Province, China - update on a successful business 23 Dec 2013 15:08 #6785

  • scottchen
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Yes, urine diversion is the future. Since 2010, i have grown cherries and apples with urine collected from the UDDTs installed in 31 schools with a turnover of 1.2 million RMB.
Chen Xiang Yang, an apple dealer,is growing apples and cherries with the human waste collected from 31 school UDDTs donated by SOHO China Foundation, based in Tianshui City, Gansu Province , China. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , tel:0086 151 9380 3972
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Re: Is urine diversion really the future? 23 Dec 2013 18:21 #6787

  • muench
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Dear Scott Chen,

Please let the forum readers know more about the interesting work that you do in China with those apple trees. We don't hear enough about ecosan in China on this forum.

Perhaps you could give us an update on the story we reported on your work in May 2012 when we had a short news article in the GIZ ecosan newsletter (when I still worked for GIZ)?*

Update: A clean dirty business with apples – May 2012

To facilitate the full operation of 31 UDDTs donated by SOHO China Foundation, Mr. Chen (a consultant) transformed the ecosan project into a profitable business by growing apples with the urine in Tianshui City of Gansu province. In 2011 about 100 apple trees in a 1,200 m² orchard were cultivated, applying about 40,000 l of urine from the SOHO School ecosan toilets. About 4,800 kg of apples were harvested and sold to middle class consumers in big cities. With the positive consumer response a profit margin of about 25% was made.


2-page description about the project:
www.susana.org/images/documents/nl43/Chi...n_Dirty_Business.pdf

Two quotes from this 2-page description:

The farmers are even happier than all the other stakeholders as do not
need to buy the chemical fertilizer with cash but pay me back the urine
transporation fee after the harvest.


With a loan, I bought a 5-ton plastic tank and a truck for enhancing the efficiency of transporting the urine from the 31 schools to the orchards owned by 10 farmers. My target is to grow 100, 000 kg apples with half-a- million RMB profit to be invested in buiding a compost plant like that one in the China-Sweden Erdos Eco-town in 2012.


SOHO China Foundation website (in Chinese): www.sohochinafoundation.org/

61 photos about your project available here:
www.flickr.com/photos/gtzecosan/sets/721...903/with/7286289662/

Three example photos:


The toilet consultant of SOHO China Foundation, Scott Chen by Sustainable sanitation, on Flickr


PA022493 by Sustainable sanitation, on Flickr


PA022463 by Sustainable sanitation, on Flickr

Regards,
Elisabeth

* Sadly, due to a restructuring of the GIZ website, these old GTZ/GIZ ecosan newsletters (I think it was about 40 newsletters since 2001) are no longer available on the GIZ website. I hope this will still be rectified by uploading them into the SuSanA library. Meanwhile, luckily some of the newsletters made it onto other people's websites and are thus still available via a Google search, e.g. this one: groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/klimakoopera...ns/topics/1644?var=1
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant
Frankfurt, Germany
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Twitter: @EvMuench
Website: www.ostella.de
Member of SuSanA (www.susana.org)
Last Edit: 23 Dec 2013 19:09 by muench.

Re: Is urine diversion really the future? 24 Dec 2013 20:08 #6796

  • KeithBell
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scottchen, congratulations, what a fantastic project you have working there; I noticed in this article it's stated "urine is better than feces when it comes to fertilizing the soil as the liquid contains 80 percent nutrient, while excrement contains only 20 percent."
www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2012-07/12/content_15571981.htm

That's a pretty amazing difference and also difficult to believe. Let's also consider the microbial differences as soil microbiology is known to affect nutrient content in food. Wouldn't feces have a very high value as fertilizer when factoring microbes? Urine, of course, is not sterile, so there may be important such benefit in urine, as well, from a microbial standpoint.
www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120409164156.htm

Are you also using the feces as fertilizer? Here's a similar project in Nepal:
edition.cnn.com/2013/06/04/business/nepa...man-urine-fertilizer

Re: Is urine diversion really the future? 24 Dec 2013 23:41 #6798

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Keith, Merry Christmas!
i am using the urine only because the feaces is quite limited though it is a good conditioner for the soil.
Few workers are interested in handling the solid waste.
Chen Xiang Yang, an apple dealer,is growing apples and cherries with the human waste collected from 31 school UDDTs donated by SOHO China Foundation, based in Tianshui City, Gansu Province , China. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , tel:0086 151 9380 3972

Business Report from the school UDDTs Donated by SOHO China Foundation 17 Feb 2014 16:18 #7396

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During 2008-2010, encouraged by Arno and I , the SOHO China Foundation built UDDT for 31 schools with about 20,000 students and teachers in Gansu province of China.

As a volunteer for teaching the students to use the toilets, I have been using the urine to grow cherries and apples with a good profit since 2010.

In 2011, the harvest was around 5,000 kg apples with a income of 120,000 RMB cooperating with one orchard owner.

In 2012, the harvest was 60,000 kg apples,cherries and vegetables with an income of 1.3 million RMB working with 30 orchard owners.

In 2013, I cut the production to 40,000 kg apples and cherries with an income of 1.1 million RMB becuase of the insufficient urine.

The profit to my family is about 0.8 million RMB for the apple and urine business during last 3 years. Neither the schools nor the farmers pay me for transporting the urine.

Marketing and orders processing are done by the Internet 100%. The products are delivered to the thousands of customers in big cities over 1,000 km away. Over 50% orderes were placed on us before the actual harvest.

Within last 12 months, among 1485 comments on the product quality , only 3 bad comments were found.

Over 3,000 people have been registered as my potential customers in my Internet homepage shop72303853.taobao.com/shop/view_shop.h..._number_id=889090749 .

Over 30 news media have covered my story of apple and urine giving me many opportunies to advocate the sustainable sanitation business.
Chen Xiang Yang, an apple dealer,is growing apples and cherries with the human waste collected from 31 school UDDTs donated by SOHO China Foundation, based in Tianshui City, Gansu Province , China. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , tel:0086 151 9380 3972

Re: Business Report from the school UDDTs Donated by SOHO China Foundation 17 Feb 2014 16:59 #7398

  • arno
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Hello Scott
This is a remarkably successful project and should be the envy of most farmers and food wholesalers. Is it the organic label linked to urine collected from schools that is the main selling point. Any pesticides being used? The fruit is of high quality. What do you think the size of the market is for this in China? How much more urine could be consumed by the farmers in Gansu province if it were made available. Is Soho planning other similar projects?
Regards
--Arno
SEI
Arno Rosemarin PhD
Stockholm Environment Institute
Linnegatan 87D, Box 24218
10451 Stockholm, Sweden
arno.rosemarin@sei-international.org

Re: Business Report from the school UDDTs Donated by SOHO China Foundation 17 Feb 2014 17:52 #7399

  • scottchen
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Hello Arno:
Yes, you are right. The farmers and furit dealers are quite either jealous or admiring about my success.I do not use Ecological instead of Organic as the label to market my products because we have a national organi standard which is quiet mechanical to me. I do not like it and i do not touch it.
I did use some pesticides but not so much. The market of these products are unlimited since there are too many rich people and too many food scandals. People are scared about the food safety. The demand for the urine is unlimited around China. Actually, the 31 school toilet blocks can only supply half of one villiage orchards. Soho China has no intention to built more toilets so far but the directors often use his influence to tell my story.
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Chen Xiang Yang, an apple dealer,is growing apples and cherries with the human waste collected from 31 school UDDTs donated by SOHO China Foundation, based in Tianshui City, Gansu Province , China. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , tel:0086 151 9380 3972

Re: Business Report from the school UDDTs Donated by SOHO China Foundation 23 Feb 2014 22:05 #7462

  • muench
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Dear Scott,

Thanks a lot for this update. It is nice to hear of such success stories from time to time!! (I have moved this thread from the category on "urine diversion" to this category on "produtive sanitation").

My questions:
  1. How many L of urine do you collect, and at what frequency do you collect it (e.g. weekly or monthly?)
  2. What is the distance that you have to transport the urine from the schools to your orchards?
  3. How big are the urine storage tanks at the schools? Do you have additional urine storage tanks at your own premises? (and therefore, how long is the urine stored for in total?)
  4. If it's so profitable how come there haven't been other businesses copying you?
  5. Who is responsible for maintaining those school UDDTs and are they doing a good job with it? Are the toilets clean?
  6. Is the urine sometimes contaminated with some faeces? Do you do any spot checks on the quality of the urine? Perhaps at least visual spot checks?
  7. Is it legal in your part of China to use urine as fertiliser on this large scale, or is it better not to ask anyone for permission and to simply do it? What is the opinion of the local authorities about your activities?
  8. Why does Soho China not want to build more school UDDTs if these school UDDTs are so successful?


By the way, the exchange rate between Chinese RMB and Eur is
1.00 EUR = 8.4 RMB

Therefore your income in 2013 was about 110,000 Eur. Is this equal to your profit or is that before taking away expenditure for transport and staff time? Oh, OK, you mentioned 800,000 RMB profit in a 3-year time period, so that is approx. 80,000 Eur per 3 years, or 27,000 Eur per year. That sounds pretty good to me.

I wonder if your case could be an interesting case for the business models that are beeing analysed in the VUNA project here:
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/98-res...12&start=12#7387

Regards,
Elisabeth
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant
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Last Edit: 23 Feb 2014 22:08 by muench.

Re: Business Report from the school UDDTs Donated by SOHO China Foundation 24 Feb 2014 07:28 #7464

  • scottchen
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1.How many L of urine do you collect, and at what frequency do you collect it (e.g. weekly or monthly?)

The are about 2000 tons of urine each year. I collect the urine when i need it or the urine tank is full.

2.What is the distance that you have to transport the urine from the schools to your orchards?

Each year, my total milage is around 40,000 km for collecting the urine from the 31 schools.
The average is around 40 km to each school from my orchard.

3.How big are the urine storage tanks at the schools? Do you have additional urine storage tanks at your own premises? (and therefore, how long is the urine stored for in total?)

The urine tank is 60 cubic meters for the first 10 school toilets and 60 for the other 21 toilets. I do not have additional storage tank at my premises.

4.If it's so profitable how come there haven't been other businesses copying you?

Yes, some people do hope to copy my method for growing fruits and vegetables but they do not have the urine.

5.Who is responsible for maintaining those school UDDTs and are they doing a good job with it? Are the toilets clean?

The school management is responsible for maintaining the toilets. Only few toilets are clean.

5.Is the urine sometimes contaminated with some faeces? Do you do any spot checks on the quality of the urine? Perhaps at least visual spot checks?

Yes, it is sometimes mixed with the faeces because of the misuse of the toilets.
I do have spot checks quite often when I visit the schools.

6.Is it legal in your part of China to use urine as fertiliser on this large scale, or is it better not to ask anyone for permission and to simply do it? What is the opinion of the local authorities about your activities?

It is legal to use the urine as fertiliser and it is the common sense. The local authorities are not interested in my work at all. But over 30 news media have covered my story during last two years making me famous in China.

7. Why does Soho China not want to build more school UDDTs if these school UDDTs are so successful?

Because the school management does not like the toilet at all. Our schools are part of the government organization and the masters are only working to the government. They do not want to spend time on training the students.

8, as the profitability, i did have a profit of 800,000 RMB from the business except the transportation fee and purchasing cost... during last 3 years.
best regards
Scott
Chen Xiang Yang, an apple dealer,is growing apples and cherries with the human waste collected from 31 school UDDTs donated by SOHO China Foundation, based in Tianshui City, Gansu Province , China. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , tel:0086 151 9380 3972
Last Edit: 24 Feb 2014 08:12 by muench.

Re: Examples of ecological sanitation at scale 11 May 2014 02:27 #8564

  • scottchen
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Actully, I transport the urine to their orchards free of charge.
Chen Xiang Yang, an apple dealer,is growing apples and cherries with the human waste collected from 31 school UDDTs donated by SOHO China Foundation, based in Tianshui City, Gansu Province , China. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , tel:0086 151 9380 3972
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