New article: Life-cycle costs of a resource-oriented sanitation system and implications for advancing a circular economy approach to sanitation

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  • ncarrard
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  • I am an applied researcher at the Institute for Sustainable Futures - University of Technology Sydney. My research interests and expertise include the WASH-gender nexus, the human rights to water and sanitation and how the WASH sector grapples with big picture sustainability questions. I work with partners in the Asia-Pacific region .
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New article: Life-cycle costs of a resource-oriented sanitation system and implications for advancing a circular economy approach to sanitation

Dear all,

I’m pleased to share a new paper detailing the life-cycle costs of a resource-oriented sanitation system in urban Sri Lanka. The sanitation system has been operating for more than a decade. The system is based on onsite containment, transfer by truck and passive treatment at an FSTP. Dried sludge is mixed with the organic fraction of municipal waste to make co-compost, which is then pelletized for sale. The study looks at costs over the system life-cycle, who pays, and also provides a detailed analysis of the reuse phase costs. The article discusses how findings can inform a circular economy approach to sanitation. Please get in touch if you need access to the full paper, it is behind a paywall but I am able to share individually. 

Life-cycle costs of a resource-oriented sanitation system and implications for advancing a circular economy approach to sanitation

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959652621013548

Abstract:

Implementing a circular economy approach to sanitation requires knowledge of the costs to construct, operate and maintain resource-oriented systems. Yet the dearth of data on costs of urban sanitation in general, and resource-oriented systems in particular, limit opportunities to progress sustainable sanitation in low- and middle-income countries. This paper contributes empirical data on the life-cycle costs of a resource-oriented sanitation system in urban Sri Lanka, addressing a gap in evidence about how much it costs, and who pays, for a system that integrates fecal sludge management with nutrient capture and reuse. Costs across the system life-cycle were analyzed according to: (i) cost type; (ii) phases of the sanitation chain; and (iii) distribution between actors. Over a 25-year lifespan, the system had an annualized cost of USD 2.8/person or USD 11/m3 of septage treated. Revenue from co-compost sales covered reuse-related costs plus 8% of present value costs for other phases of the sanitation chain. Findings affirm both the potential for resource-oriented sanitation to generate revenue, and the need for substantial complementary investment in the overall system. The system was found to be reliant on household investment, yet financially viable from the service provider perspective with revenue from desludging services (89%) and co-compost sales (11%) that exceeded costs over the system lifespan and in most years. The analysis of total costs, financial perspectives, and reuse specifics contributes critical evidence to inform policy and planning that supports a purposeful and equitable transition towards circular economy approaches to sanitation. 
Naomi Carrard
Researcher
Institute for Sustainable Futures
University of Technology Sydney
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  • Esthervl
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  • Implementation special at SEMiLLA Sanitation whom develop and implement sustainable closed loop water and sanitation concepts based on space in developing countries, separating different water streams and recovering important resources.
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Re: New article: Life-cycle costs of a resource-oriented sanitation system and implications for advancing a circular economy approach to sanitation

Dear Naomi,

I would love to read the entire article, could you please send this to me? My email is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Kind regards,

Esther
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  • ncarrard
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  • I am an applied researcher at the Institute for Sustainable Futures - University of Technology Sydney. My research interests and expertise include the WASH-gender nexus, the human rights to water and sanitation and how the WASH sector grapples with big picture sustainability questions. I work with partners in the Asia-Pacific region .
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Re: New article: Life-cycle costs of a resource-oriented sanitation system and implications for advancing a circular economy approach to sanitation

Thanks for your interest Esther, I've just emailed it to you 
Naomi Carrard
Researcher
Institute for Sustainable Futures
University of Technology Sydney
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  • csk
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  • I work on the toilet, sanitation, biogas, FSM, environmental science and engineering, and I hope to contribute to the toilet revolution in China and in the global. I am happy to share Chinese WASH story.
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Re: New article: Life-cycle costs of a resource-oriented sanitation system and implications for advancing a circular economy approach to sanitation

Great to see that. Maybe we could have discussion in the future. we also work on the similar topics. 

Kind regards

Cheng
Shikun Cheng,
Associate professor, Ph.D
Center for Sustainable Environmental Sanitation (CSES)
Department of Environmental Science and Engineering
University of Science and Technology Beijing (USTB)
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  • ncarrard
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  • I am an applied researcher at the Institute for Sustainable Futures - University of Technology Sydney. My research interests and expertise include the WASH-gender nexus, the human rights to water and sanitation and how the WASH sector grapples with big picture sustainability questions. I work with partners in the Asia-Pacific region .
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Re: New article: Life-cycle costs of a resource-oriented sanitation system and implications for advancing a circular economy approach to sanitation

Thanks Cheng! It would be great to have a discussion about our work. I will email you :)
Naomi Carrard
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Institute for Sustainable Futures
University of Technology Sydney
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  • Heiner
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  • I am a retired organic farmer and interested in nutrient cycles. As an volunteer I now travel mainly to poor countries and together with locals I would like to find new ways of sustainable agriculture. This is beyond the regulations of IFOAM.
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Re: New article: Life-cycle costs of a resource-oriented sanitation system and implications for advancing a circular economy approach to sanitation

Thanks Naomi,

the studies our societies need...... thanks for it.

A short question and if there is something about my question in the study I would be glad if you send me a pdf...

Are there any calculations about the costs if we do not care about sanitation and reuse? I think of the medical/health costs by a lack of hygiene and the pollution of the water bodies with untreated excreta or sludge calculates in dollars?

Thanks very much,

heiner (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
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  • ncarrard
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  • I am an applied researcher at the Institute for Sustainable Futures - University of Technology Sydney. My research interests and expertise include the WASH-gender nexus, the human rights to water and sanitation and how the WASH sector grapples with big picture sustainability questions. I work with partners in the Asia-Pacific region .
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Re: New article: Life-cycle costs of a resource-oriented sanitation system and implications for advancing a circular economy approach to sanitation

Thanks Heiner, happy to hear you find the study interesting (I'll email you the paper). In this case we didn't monetise externalities on either the costs or benefits side, instead focusing on financial flows. Other studies have done so for different locations, and further analysis to look at the health and environmental benefits of safe FSM would be valuable. It would also be good to explore GHGs incurred or avoided due to the particular model of FSM used. 
Naomi Carrard
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Institute for Sustainable Futures
University of Technology Sydney
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  • Heiner
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  • I am a retired organic farmer and interested in nutrient cycles. As an volunteer I now travel mainly to poor countries and together with locals I would like to find new ways of sustainable agriculture. This is beyond the regulations of IFOAM.
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Re: New article: Life-cycle costs of a resource-oriented sanitation system and implications for advancing a circular economy approach to sanitation

Thanks for your paper!

To me as a farmer very interesting. A few remarks I want to share (so you can see I read the paper ;-))

Pelletizing the Co- Compost. My first reaction was: why this additional energy input? But then you mentioned the reason, the higher price and demand for the product. These are the cultural and mental barriers I always forget.  It is about the same with the swiss product "Aurin" from the VUNA guys. The costly processed product is far from being competitive fertilizer. But it is a product well educated "green customers" put on their roses or even their veggies in the garden and don't care about the price.

Adding mineral rock phosphate. The whole composting process, as I can judge it from the distance, is combined with fairly high loss of nitrogen and not phosphate. So to me, to get the right balance to fertilize plants, it would be essential to add nitrogen. The only reason to add phosphate could be very poor soils with a common very low phosphate level. But as you mentioned, it always depends on if you see it as a fertilizer or a soil conditioner. Adding nitrogen und doing some field test could convince more farmers to use the compost because of the much higher yields.

Calculations in general. I understand now, after reading your paper, your costing boundaries and so my former question is a bit obsolet. But.....we ran into our ecological desaster because  we were calculating all the time. The disposal of waste was cheaper than the reuse, the pollution of the water bodies cheaper than fine working wastewater treatment plants.
There is a little mindshift now and I'm happy I read the word circularity (or circular economy) so often in your paper. But still we calculate with "market prices". Adjusted market prices, okay. But a wise guy (forgot who) said: it is impossible to fix a broken system with the same tools which lead to the breakdown.
I think we need in addition to the monetary calculations you made further paradigm for our decisions where to go. One could be the degree of reuse, or fulfillment of the goals of the circular economy. See i.e. :  www.construcia.com .
Every percentage would count. No matter if we monetarize or not.

Thanks again, I learned a lot.

Heiner 
Heiner, the old farmer.....
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  • romu
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Re: New article: Life-cycle costs of a resource-oriented sanitation system and implications for advancing a circular economy approach to sanitation

Dear Naomi,

This looks an interesting paper. Kindly share with me the full document on my email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Thanks
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  • Prasanta
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Re: New article: Life-cycle costs of a resource-oriented sanitation system and implications for advancing a circular economy approach to sanitation

Interesting article on life cycle costing of the FSM and circular economy. Could you share the full paper to me (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)Thanks. 
Prasanta Kumar Mohapatra
Chief Engineer
Odisha Water Supply & Sewerage Board
Bhubaneswar, Odisha
India
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  • ncarrard
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  • I am an applied researcher at the Institute for Sustainable Futures - University of Technology Sydney. My research interests and expertise include the WASH-gender nexus, the human rights to water and sanitation and how the WASH sector grapples with big picture sustainability questions. I work with partners in the Asia-Pacific region .
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Re: New article: Life-cycle costs of a resource-oriented sanitation system and implications for advancing a circular economy approach to sanitation

Thanks for your reflections and suggestions Heiner, I much appreciate reading your thoughts. 

On your final point regarding the limitations of working with market prices, I agree and hope that the key message in the study was clear - ie that these kind of cost analysis should not be about 'whether' to invest in resource-oriented sanitation, but instead about how to do so in the most efficient and equitable ways. This proposes a different goal from common cost assessments, and aligns with your suggestion about driving decisions with eg. % reuse rather than with reference to costs. In other words, I agree with prioritising reuse in the goal and decision making framework, and still think within this it is important to also consider costs to ensure viability and equitable distribution of costs and benefits.
Naomi Carrard
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Institute for Sustainable Futures
University of Technology Sydney
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  • ncarrard
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  • I am an applied researcher at the Institute for Sustainable Futures - University of Technology Sydney. My research interests and expertise include the WASH-gender nexus, the human rights to water and sanitation and how the WASH sector grapples with big picture sustainability questions. I work with partners in the Asia-Pacific region .
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Re: New article: Life-cycle costs of a resource-oriented sanitation system and implications for advancing a circular economy approach to sanitation

Thanks for your interest Prasanta, I have emailed you the paper.
Naomi Carrard
Researcher
Institute for Sustainable Futures
University of Technology Sydney
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