Introducing Ecosec, new company from Montpellier

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  • ben
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Introducing Ecosec, new company from Montpellier

Description of project:

Based in Montpellier (south of France) the Ecosec project plan to introduce for the first time in France High Standard UDDT toilets in center town. Created as a cooperative company with my childhood friend, the goal is to push to the maximum the local and ecological aspects through 100% local construction in natural french flax fiber, maintenance and cleaning several time a day by bicycle, re-use of compost in flower parks of the city, raising awareness to the population to the imperious need to save water in our region (the driest of France).

The cabin is made out of composite material and is full of automatisms, we tried to exceed the sensation of “modernism” that you can get in usual JC DECAUX automatic Public toilets in France. Forced ventilation, slab hiding the feces connected with a sensor which open it when you start sitting (so when you enter you don't see the previous use), ventilation from the inside toward the “technical wall” for extraction even for urinals, double waterless urinal outside to answer big affluence, etc ... are some of the technical innovations of the cabin.

The urine will be either thrown in the sewerweb or treated with a small reed bed if there is soil around. We’ll try later to re-use it in peri-urban agriculture. Feces, until we can make our own compost treatment, will be composted on the side of the sludge compost heaps at the main treatment plant of the city, just to reassure the authorities at the beginning.

Origin of the project:

After a few years in international organizations, either multinationals or NGOs, working on sanitation marketing as a consultant I felt I wasn’t so pertinent for several reasons.

I’ve got gradually fed up with the global development world, I met a great amount of inspired people and I’m sure most people in this forum dedicate their life to the cause. However, after years being witness of corruption, reading on WB and IMF disasters in Africa, building proposals and adapting my strategies to the funders rather than for what was right I felt the overall system was sick, and I wanted to apply what I worked on the past few years : development through small private sector.

If I come back to the developing world now, I’d love it to be in a peer to peer relationship, between entrepreneur to entrepreneur who both know what it is to put your family at risk with a loan, who both know what it is to work in a workshop 12h a day, who both know what it is to clean a toilets everyday and build a compost heap. We may have a lot of difference but at least we’ll both know what it’s like to run a family business.

Where we are now :

We presented our prototype in a fair last week ( photos ) and got a very nice article in the regional news, users were very pleased to use them and have been nicely surprised with our design, especially the Flax fiber aspect. The mayor visited it and asked us to put our prototype in use for 2 months before further discussion. The stat of the trial will probably be November. We’ve got good hope to finally get a contract as there is not a single public toilet in this 300 000 hab. city, right in the touristic south ring of france.

I’ll keep you updated on how works the prototype once we put it in use. A video is planned soon too.

Primary contact at lead organization: Benjamin CLOUET, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Location: Montpellier (South of France)

Goal(s):

To create our own job back home, independence being a great form of liberty, to raise awareness in the area that water is scarce, to keep developing high standard and researched designs in order to change the perception of dry toilets.

Technically, my dream would be to install the VUNA project reactor + distillatory inside the cabin so we could distillate onsite. The pure water would be used to clean your hands and 100 % of the wastes would be re-used in peri-urban agriculture.

Objectives:

1. Build a viable prototype so we can show it’s more a question of appearance and aspiration than a question of Dry Vs Wet system.
2. Build a viable business and a replicable model that can spread in other cities
3. Not have a boss, and work in a cooperative company (on the principle one person one vote)
4. Not be dependant of subsidies or funders
4. Always Keep developing new designs, reaching new markets (campings, stadiums, schools, homes, etc …)

Website : www.ecosec.fr
Sorry it's only in French for the moment, as is our flyer. But translation is coming soon.


Pour les francophones :

Description du projet :


Basé à Montpellier, ECOSEC a pour ambition d’introduire, pour la première fois en France, un réseau de toilettes sèches publiques haut de gamme en centre-ville avec un service de nettoyage en vélo associé plusieurs fois par jour. Par le biais de ce produit très symbolique, ECOSEC sensibilisera les usagers sur les économies d’eau, les cycles courts et le recyclage. Design architectural audacieux, maintenance et nettoyages réalisées en vélo, réutilisation du compost produit dans les espaces verts de la ville, construction en matériaux naturels, autant de thèmes qui ancrent le projet dans une démarche locale et écologique. Afin de rendre encore plus cohérente notre activité sur le territoire, notre structure est coopérative et compte embaucher des personnes en insertion professionnelle.

Techniquement, nous séparons les urines des fèces (Joseph ne serait pas content !). Pour les urines, l'idée est de soit les évacuer dans le réseau d'égout, soit de les traiter sur place avec une micro phyto-épuration (3 m² probablement, solution sûrement appliquée pour le proto que nous allons mettre en test prochainement), soit par la suite de les réutiliser dans l'agriculture péri-urbaine. Nous avons placé une ventilation forcée qui aspire l'air de l’intérieur vers la paroi technique. Nous nous sommes basé sur les standards, plutôt acceptés, des cabines JC DEACUX et avons placé des automatismes de tous les cotés, notamment une trappe sur le trou qui s'ouvre seulement avec la détection des fesses à 10cm d la cuvette, ceci pour deux raison. La première est de dissuader les hommes d'uriner dedans (il y a un urinoir ds la cabine intérieur) et la deuxième est d’empêcher la vision de l'utilisation précédente avant de s'asseoir.

Où nous en sommes

Mon associé Bernard CAILLE et moi même Benjamin CLOUET, avons présenté notre prototype dimanche dernier lors d'une grande foire aux associations au centre de Montpellier. Nous avons eu de très bon retours sur le design global, l'ergonomie de la cabine et le concept en lui même. Gratifié d'une visite de notre cabine par le maire , nous avons réussi à accrocher deux élus de la ville pour faire un test prochainement en situation réelle, probablement au Zoo ou au Domaine d'Ô. Il n'y a à l'heure actuelle quasiment aucune toilettes publiques au centre ville de Montpellier.

Personnelement, après plusieurs années passées comme consultant sur des programmes assainissement internationaux, j'ai senti un manque de pertinence dans mes actions pour plusieurs raisons. Je souhaite ces prochaines années développer de sprogramme de sani-marché avec une relation d'entrepreneur à entrepreneur. Je pense, après avoir monté une entreprise de collecte et gestion de matières fécales, bien mieux maitriser les contraintes financières, de production, de compostage et de relations publiques que peuvent rencontrer les petits entrepreneur que nous accompagnons habituellement.

Objectifs :

- Finir le développement d'un prototype viable qui montre que la question d'apparence et de confort n'est pas lié au type de toilette sec ou humide
- Developper un concept réplicale dans d'autres villes du nord et du sud
- Ne pas avoir de patron, embrasser au maximum les principes d'une coopérative
- Trouver un modèle de développement sans subventions

Contact : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website www.ecosec.fr

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  • KaiMikkel
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Re: Introducing Ecosec, new company from Montpellier

ben - I am so inspired to read that you have returned home and are working locally to bring attention to the very real problems of water scarcity and legacy sanitation in your region of the world. I too see the benefits of working locally and am a student of the idea that the time has come to turn an equal amount of our attention inward and to fix the myriad problems occurring in our home communities. As I see it, we in the West have a lot to learn from those folks that have been hard at work implementing sustainable sanitation systems in the Majority World. Good for you! :)

p.s. I am particularly enamored with the inclusion of a bicycle(s) in your proposal.
Kai Mikkel Førlie

Founding Member of Water-Wise Vermont (formerly Vermonters Against Toxic Sludge)
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  • ben
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Re: Introducing Ecosec, new company from Montpellier

Hi Kai,

Thanks for your support, I'm totally with you on the inward focus we should have as well. How many of us consultants have had great time in exotics tropical countries with an expat livestyle when in our home doorsteps gipsy camps or native reservations have similarely bad sanitation conditions. How many of us are preaching dry toilets and don't have one at home ?
I learned a lot from the sanitation marketing programs abroad and the energy put by inspired people into closing the sanitation cycle. It's very funny when you say to someone here in Europe "This is from programs in Haiti, ghana or south africa that we learned about safe excreta re-use without a sewerweb". Our project is directly inspired from san-mark programs I discovered on this forum, with just a westener adaptation on the cabin.
In "sustainable", there would be a lot to say about the turnover of sanitation expats coming just for a short amount of time, and then leaving for more adventures. Being home gives you I believe a certain stability on your engagement as well as realising how the cultural understanding is key for the program to be a success. No generalisation is made here, but in sanitation programs there's still probably not enough control hand-over to people who've been living there all their life and will stay there even after the end of the program.

And by the way, bicycle isn't only a ecological wish. In center town you go probably twice faster than a car and by avoiding a truck investment, it allows us to be competitive even with cabins 100 % built in France !

Best,

Ben
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Re: Introducing Ecosec, new company from Montpellier

Dear all,

After several months of development, administrative blockages and partnership delays we are proud to present you the Ecosec Cabin installed and working in the Montepllier's Zoo.

www.facebook.com/ecosec.fr/photos/pb.151...3407/?type=1&theater

www.facebook.com/ecosec.fr/photos/pb.151...6746/?type=1&theater

With this launch, we'd like as well to ask for your support through crowd-funding campaign . We started this project a year ago, and have invested a lot in our first cabin prototype and designs, and today we ask you to help us take this to the next step.

Our prototype and designs have generated a lot of interest and we believe that we have reached the stage where we need to invest in a proper workshop, in order to fulfill existing and future orders. We also need to invest in an electric bicycle and a compact aerated composter, as well as compulsory regulatory checks, commercial flyers and a video.



We thank you very much for your generosity, for sharing this campaign and for supporting us at your level. We'll soon publish videos on how our system works and the early users perception.

Best wishes to all of you,

Ben
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  • gsmikhael
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Re: Introducing Ecosec, new company from Montpellier

Ben,

This is excellent, great job! Keep the updates coming.

Georges
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  • canaday
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Re: Introducing Ecosec, new company from Montpellier

Hi Ben,

Congrats on this first Ecosec Unit in the Montpellier Zoo.

Now I see that Ecodomeos will be functioning within the toilets. This is great, as long as there is always electricity for the fan ... or could passive ventilation be sufficient? It seems the Ecodomeo may be filling interchangeable buckets. I would suggest lining the buckets with woven polypropylene sacks, which could then be stacked in solar ovens (but protected against direct UV, so the sacks do not get destroyed), for the first stage of drying, deoomposition, and pathogen die-off. If you achieve 65°C for just one hour, all pathogens should be dead, according to the literature. I would also not scrub and disinfect the buckets, just put them upside-down to let them drain and dry out; this would allow a beneficial community of microbes to develop in the buckets (under the heat-pasteurized sack). (Just a little brainstorming.)

You may like to have a paid attendant (or maybe student volunteers) to help explain the benefits and proper use of this dry toilet, clean up, and step on the pedal if users do not. (They can also make sure that zoo baboons do not come in and monkey around.) It is obviously key that this first unit be a great success.

Good luck. Please keep us up-to-date.

Best wishes,
Chris Canaday
Conservation Biologist and EcoSan Promoter
Omaere Ethnobotanical Park
Puyo, Pastaza, Ecuador, South America
inodoroseco.blogspot.com
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Re: Introducing Ecosec, new company from Montpellier

Hi Chris, and thanks georges,

Thanks a lot for these ideas, we're actually brainstorming on a human shit composter that would be acceptable in center town or in our workshop's back garden. And everyone from europe knows how complicated it will be to convince old administrative guys paid to take the less sanitary risk possible, and this process will probably be far more psychological than scientific. By that I mean we need to work on something super hermetic, fancy, something with the temperature can read on your phone, with automatic airflow control, that kind of useless things but which make the process acceptable and pro. This is truly sad but back home in the urban environment any solution which is too assimilated as a "back to living in a cave" thing might be rejected. We keep your great idea in mind, let's make it fancy.

I'll post soon a video on how our system work, it's not with the ecodomeo, but close.

For the cleaning service, this is actually our business model. We do not sell our cabins, we lend them and provide a service of cleaning 4 to 5 times a day by someone in bycicle. To be viable, I need 5 toilets running pretty close one to the other (less than 700m). Th next idea is to use this guy cycling all day to offer the management of composters at the bottom of the buildings : mixing, dealing with the N.C ratio, cleaning the buckets so people come back home with a clean one, etc ... Once you got someone with a bike in town, there's plenty of things to do with.

Last invention we had, the uri-gutter, with a unitary sewerweb in Montpellier, this would be a cheap way to remove smell from our little alleys.


Best,

Ben
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Re: Introducing Ecosec, new company from Montpellier

Bonjour à tous,

Nous sommes heureux de vous présenter notre cahier d'exploration .
Ce travail met en dessin la nouvelle approche de gestion de nos matières organiques en centre ville que nous proposons à Montpellier. Couplé à une gestion de composteurs en pied d'immeuble, les nettoyages pluri-quotidien des cabines en vélo serait ainsi facilement rentailisés.
Nous vous invitons à vous promener dans le Montpellier de demain, où l’écologie est à chaque coin de rue, où recyclage et économies d’eau sont associés à toilettes modernes et composteurs fleuris.

Bonne balade,

Ben

Dear All,

We're happy to present you our new Project for Montpellier .
This work (sorry only in french) tries to present graphically what could look like a service of public toilet management parallel to a management service of composters a the feet of center town buildings.
We invite you to wander by the Montpellier 2.0, where ecology is surrounding us, reminding that with intelligent infrastructures everyone could locally and daily join the adventure of the ecological transition.

Best,

Ben
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