Composting toilets do not produce compost - true or false? And is "composting toilet" a misnomer?

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  • AjitSeshadri
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  • Marine Chief Engineer by profession (1971- present) and at present Faculty in Marine Engg. Deptt. Vels University, Chennai, India. Also proficient in giving Environmental solutions , Designation- Prof. Ajit Seshadri, Head- Environment, The Vigyan Vijay Foundation, NGO, New Delhi, INDIA , Consultant located at present at Chennai, India
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Re: Reply: Composting toilets do not produce compost - true or false? And is

Thanks Elisabeth.
You are very helpful, most of us ie grey haired or no haired would have gone through this document (565pgs.. 1983 born)
Researchers at present can evlove a updated version, its worth the efforts.

Well wishes.
Prof. Ajit Seshadri, Faculty in Marine Engg. Deptt. Vels University, and
Head-Environment , VigyanVijay Foundation, Consultant (Water shed Mngmnt, WWT, WASH, others)Located at present at Chennai, India

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  • Elisabeth
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Re: Reply: Composting toilets do not produce compost - true or false? And is

Hi Gordwin,
I think Ajit was referring to this document from 1983 which Brian had posted:

documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/70404...astewater-management

Feachem, Richard G.; Bradley, David J.; Garelick, Hemda; Mara, D. Duncan; Feachem, Richard G.*Bradley, David J.*Garelick, Hemda*Mara, D. Duncan. 1983. Sanitation and disease : health aspects of excreta and wastewater management (English). World Bank studies in water supply and sanitation ; no. 3. New York, NY : John Wiley & Sons.


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  • Gordwin
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Re: Reply: Composting toilets do not produce compost - true or false? And is

Please share with me the link by Prof.Duncan Maria[565pages}

With kind Regards, Gordwin Muhambi.

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  • AjitSeshadri
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  • Marine Chief Engineer by profession (1971- present) and at present Faculty in Marine Engg. Deptt. Vels University, Chennai, India. Also proficient in giving Environmental solutions , Designation- Prof. Ajit Seshadri, Head- Environment, The Vigyan Vijay Foundation, NGO, New Delhi, INDIA , Consultant located at present at Chennai, India
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Re: [SuSanA Forum] Composting toilets do not produce compost - true or false? And is "composting toilet" a misnomer? (Composting toilets, Arborloos)

Many thanks for giving link to a Bible on WASH by Prof. Duncan Mara and others ( 565pgs )
This will be useful for many Researchers.
well wishes.
Prof. Ajit Seshadri, Faculty in Marine Engg. Deptt. Vels University, and
Head-Environment , VigyanVijay Foundation, Consultant (Water shed Mngmnt, WWT, WASH, others)Located at present at Chennai, India

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Re: [SuSanA Forum] Composting toilets do not produce compost - true or false? And is "composting toilet" a misnomer? (Composting toilets, Arborloos)

Hi, I have friends who use a compost toilet and yes, it produces compost. It's a dry toilet.
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  • AndyWarren
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  • I'm the Managing Director of NatSol Ltd, Composting and Remote Toilet Specialists. We operate almost exclusively in the UK and design and manufacture our own products. These are supplied to sites such as allotments, rural churches, public parks and campsites.
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Re: [SuSanA Forum] Composting toilets do not produce compost - true or false? And is "composting toilet" a misnomer? (Composting toilets, Arborloos)

Thanks for the link to the Richard Feachem document 'Sanitation and Disease'. That's my bed time reading sorted for 6 months.

I too use urine from my own urine separating toilets as a plant food, and in composting of high carbon/low nitrogen waste material e.g. cardboard. We had a client who wanted us to install a collection tank for urine from a toilet we supplied so that they could do the same. But they are Soil Association registered and the SA don't allow that, so it got dropped.
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  • BrianReed
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Re: [SuSanA Forum] Composting toilets do not produce compost - true or false? And is "composting toilet" a misnomer? (Composting toilets, Arborloos)

If you want a core text on excreta and health, have a look at

documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/70404...astewater-management

it has charts showing the pattern of pathogen die -off related to temperature and time (i.e. pathogens take a longer time to die off under lower temperatures).

I did read the question in a different way however. I am a gardener as well as a WASH trainer, so I focused on the word "compost". Yes the other posts did mention the need for a good C:N ratio (or brown/ green mix as gardeners might see it) to get a good result. My attention however was on the use that this compost might be put to. The NPK ratios of composted faeces are not great from a fertiliser perspective - it's the urine that has the nutrients. Well composted faecal matter might be fine as a soil improver - but composted green waste is also very good and without the health concerns. There is also the issue of harvesting / dormant seasons and the storage of urine especially. So are you seeing compost as a way of disposing of excreta or a positive contribution to soil health? Personally I use urine as a compost activator mixed with garden and vegetable waste - and the pathogen rich faecal matter goes down the sewer. It can depend on what your perspective is.

I have come across reports of composting latrines being used, but the "product" just being dumped as transport/ fertility/ yuk factor was against its use. The people were using the toilets however as they were designed to be emptied easily so made maintenance cheaper.

hope this is helpful!

Brian Reed
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BSc (Hons)(Dunelm), PGDip (Lond), MSc (N’cle), CEng, CEnv, C.WEM, MICE, MCIWEM, FHEA
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  • joeturner
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Re: [SuSanA Forum] Composting toilets do not produce compost - true or false? And is "composting toilet" a misnomer? (Composting toilets, Arborloos)

FS is presumably faecal sludge. We don't tend to use the word "sludge" around here as in industrial countries it might imply a mix of industrial and household wastewater solids.

Long slow decomposition does not kill pathogens.

It may be enough in countries where pathogen incidence is low and where other barriers exist.

As has been well known for at least 40 years, faeces compost needs to reach a high temperature for a minimum period. Most experts think this needs to be at least 50 degrees c. Some think that it should be much higher and for a longer period.

All agree that sanitation only occurs of the entire contents of the co-composting reach that temperature.

It is highly unlikely that a slow unmonitored temperate composting system in temperate regions would ever reach those kinds of temperature. Hence I cannot see that the contents could ever be described as fully sanitised to any international standard.


Edit: it is quite frustrating that these obvious, well known facts need repeating multiple times.
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  • AndyWarren
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  • I'm the Managing Director of NatSol Ltd, Composting and Remote Toilet Specialists. We operate almost exclusively in the UK and design and manufacture our own products. These are supplied to sites such as allotments, rural churches, public parks and campsites.
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Re: [SuSanA Forum] Composting toilets do not produce compost - true or false? And is "composting toilet" a misnomer? (Composting toilets, Arborloos)

Hi Ajit,

Thanks. - though didn't understand 'FS'.

We have always advised people not to put veg waste in toilets as it attracts fruit flies (Drosophila). However, out toilets are almost all in temperate regions and have long slow decomposition cycles. If the composting cycle is shorter perhaps that's not an issue.

Andy

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  • AjitSeshadri
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  • Marine Chief Engineer by profession (1971- present) and at present Faculty in Marine Engg. Deptt. Vels University, Chennai, India. Also proficient in giving Environmental solutions , Designation- Prof. Ajit Seshadri, Head- Environment, The Vigyan Vijay Foundation, NGO, New Delhi, INDIA , Consultant located at present at Chennai, India
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Re: [SuSanA Forum] Composting toilets do not produce compost - true or false? And is "composting toilet" a misnomer? (Composting toilets, Arborloos)

Dear Andy Warren.
Its hard to bio degrade FS, we have seen that co composting with veg market waste and some agri waste helps.
After initial anaerobic process in coverd pits for 1- 2 weeks, have vermi process composting in open pits, Worms shifting to newer and fresh matter within pit, would reveal that the bio matter is getting to be totally composted in 2- 3 weeks . Then the bio -matter is removed for drying and for packaged ready for use.
Worms when exposed to open areas gets worms seekers pilfer the stock and some take away worms for use as fish- bait.
This process is hardy but realises good compost, nutrient, N P K and minerals rich .. well wshes ..
Prof. Ajit Seshadri, Faculty in Marine Engg. Deptt. Vels University, and
Head-Environment , VigyanVijay Foundation, Consultant (Water shed Mngmnt, WWT, WASH, others)Located at present at Chennai, India

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  • AndyWarren
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  • I'm the Managing Director of NatSol Ltd, Composting and Remote Toilet Specialists. We operate almost exclusively in the UK and design and manufacture our own products. These are supplied to sites such as allotments, rural churches, public parks and campsites.
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Re: [SuSanA Forum] Composting toilets do not produce compost - true or false? And is "composting toilet" a misnomer? (Composting toilets, Arborloos)

Geoff is certainly right about the lignin in wood. We have often recommended Hemcore (or similar - that's a proprietory name) which comes from industrial hemp and breaks down more easily. However, it's not so easily available. If wood is to be used we recommend shavings as these create more air spaces in the pile and it is far less likely to become anaerobic. We know that from experience. We urine separate of course.

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  • joeturner
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Re: [SuSanA Forum] Composting toilets do not produce compost - true or false? And is "composting toilet" a misnomer? (Composting toilets, Arborloos)

As geoff says, much of the carbon in wood chips are in lignin which takes a long time to breakdown, and is resistant to the microbes you actually want to be growing in faecal compost. Also if it is chips, the surface area is low. It would be better, but probably still not great, to use sawdust.

It still puzzles me why anyone could possibly imagine that this could sanitise anything. In the worst scenario, it might actually incubate/increase the worst pathogen loads.

Faecal composting needs a lot of air, a lot of easy carbon and low nitrogen. Why hasn't this simple formula and basic microbiology become widely understood?
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