Sustainable Waterless Sanitation and Waste Management Solutions - South Africa

  • ECOlaTRINE
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Sustainable Waterless Sanitation and Waste Management Solutions - South Africa

Dear all,

I want to say something about ECOlaTRINE's concerns. We are a very small self-funded company in South Africa who believes in a "waste to value product" principle - especially in an African context/ environment.
Although I'm active in the WG4, it doesn't address the turnkey solutions for water, sanitation and waste management - leading to value products like biogas and composting solutions - leading to land rehabilitation and food security through horticulture and agriculture projects.

Water issues can not be addressed without addressing sanitation first.
Pollution of ground water and surrounding water resources must be prevented.
Water harvesting should be encouraged.
Grey water purification for horticulture/ agriculture project can be done cheaply

Employment (generating income) must be created if you want the "buy-in" from the community, and through the sales of various "value from waste products" like affordable biogas, compost, fruit or vegetables, (a sustainable "pocket approach") cleaning services of communal or domestic sanitation units can be subsidized. Costs to government/ municipalities will be reduced for sanitation and can be spent on parallel projects like Education and Health within the community.

None of the above should be implemented without a 18 month (once-off) funding proposal - providing skills training of local municipal and community members in the areas of maintenance, sanitation services, administration, financial management and HIV/health/ girl child education.
If we do our jobs well, these projects should be self-sustainable after a period of 18 months. Communities should take
responsibility and ownership of the project once they contribute to and see the 12 month results. A wonderful opportunity for women and people with disabilities to be active, recognized and contribute to the dignity and welfare of everyone in their community.

ECOlaTRINE follows a scientific approach to the composting of human waste and urine with other C:N materials. We have our compost tested by an accredited laboratory for absence of harmful pathogens and metals with great success. These results are due to our climate and high temperatures during summer and winter months. Other successful sludge and waste management systems like AgriProtein (Soldier Fly farms) are already in operation in South Africa, and is expanding around the world. Sludge-research is so "after the fact" - and expensive, when you take the alternatives into consideration.

My input is not meant as an advertisement for either ECOlaTRINE or AgriProtein (who have other subsidiaries) - but to emphasize the fact that commercial closed-loop/ turnkey solutions already exist (on small/big scale) in South Africa.

I find it interesting that South Africa is not involved in any SuSanA Sub-Saharan projects. We have a load of skills and companies who can contribute to challenging projects around Africa, Madagascar etc. - at a much lower cost.
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  • muench
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Re: Sustainable Waterless Sanitation and Waste Management Solutions - South Africa

Dear Henriette,

Thanks for your forum post. You said: "We are a very small self-funded company in South Africa who believes in a "waste to value product" principle - especially in an African context/ environment."

I'd like to invite you to use the forum to tell us more about your work. At present, your post or forum profile contains no website link and no easy way for people to find out more about you. Feel free to post some links and information.

This forum is open to private sector participants and we love to hear from people such as yourself as the private sector is so important! It's true that plain advertising is not allowed here but people who introduce their work or products and are happy to answer questions about it (even sometimes critical ones) and enter into a conversation are very welcome here! :-)

You also said "I find it interesting that South Africa is not involved in any SuSanA Sub-Saharan projects."
I don't know what you mean with this? SuSanA has no projects of its own. We are just a network and a knowledge management platform.

We host a project database where all SuSanA partners can add their projects to (you could do that, too):
www.susana.org/en/knowledge-hub/projects/database

This is a service we provide which we hope everyone in the sector finds useful. The project database can be filtered and searched with a number of criteria. E.g. filtering by country South Africa gives these 33 results:
www.susana.org/en/knowledge-hub/projects...&vbl_20%5B546%5D=546

And what did you mean by this?:
We have a load of skills and companies who can contribute to challenging projects around Africa, Madagascar etc. - at a much lower cost.

Lower cost than who?

Regards,
Elisabeth

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Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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Sanitation Wikipedia project leader: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Sanitation
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  • ECOlaTRINE
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Re: Sustainable Waterless Sanitation and Waste Management Solutions - South Africa

Hi Elizabeth

Thank you for your reply - and pointing me in the right direction. I appreciate the opportunity given to not necessarily market our company, but to create an awareness that various service providers (companies) are working together to provide a closed-loop or end-to-end solution for sanitation and waste management challenges in South Africa.

To answer your questions:
I'm aware that SuSanA provides a platform for discussions and ideas - and will follow the links you've provided - I should make time to familiarize myself better with the content of the various sub-sections of the forum. Will also update my profile.
Due to the air, road and rail infrastructure between South Africa and neighboring countries, and trade agreements between SADEC regions it may be financially beneficial to source materials and skills from a neighboring country willing to get involved with African Development projects. This applies specifically to the ongoing monitoring of successful implementation and sustainability of projects.

Regards
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  • Kevinkuhn
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Re: Sustainable Waterless Sanitation and Waste Management Solutions - South Africa

Hi Henriette,

my team is doing a very similar business in Germany, therefore I am interested how it works on the other side of the globe.

Do you rent out the toilets to events or do you just sell them?

If you rent them out, how do you treat the residuals? Do you compost them? Are there any legal restrictions in SA for this?

Do you operate just in Johannesburg or also in other regions of the country?

Do you have problems with termites? I am not too familiar with the context in SA, because I have never been there, but I could imagine that working with wood and especially OSB wood could be difficult because of insects.

Who are your costumers? Do you also give the toilets to people in townships who don´t have any toilet?


Thanks and best regards
Kevin

Non-Water Sanitation e.V.
www.nonwatersanitation.de
www.nonwatersanitation.org (english)

EcoToiletten - Rental for public composting toilets for cities and music festivals in Germany
www.ecotoiletten.de
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  • ECOlaTRINE
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Re: Sustainable Waterless Sanitation and Waste Management Solutions - South Africa

Hi Kevin

Thank you for your questions - and a lot of them!!!

Answers:
1. Rental: Yes and No - We rent it out on a long term basis - as every unit is built to the specifications / requirements of the user. A monthly service fee for the removal of waste etc. is charged.

2. Every Municipality (Local/ Regional Government) seems to have different standards regarding waste management protocol. I'm still trying to establish a standard through the various Governmental Departments involved in Waste Management. Guidelines are given, but no laws have been laid down (a long discussion). It therefore leaves us free to do scientific testing of small samples in 3 locations - (mixture of bio waste/ urine and other materials) which at this stage will not exceed any municipal/ regulatory restrictions. We are also testing various composting structures and equipment. We are currently testing a biogas process (successfully) for the same combination of waste materials.

3. Our business started in Johannesburg - mainly to provide accessible sanitation to athletes/people with disabilities at events. (Another long discussion) - but we provide services countrywide. Employment, training and upskill of people in the community where the units at utilized is of utmost importance. We believe that communities want, and will take responsibility for their own water, sanitation, waste and health challenges if they can make a sustainable living from it.

4. We use different wood types for our units - depending on where it is used. OSB (pressed wood) is imported from Europe and Eastern Block countries where chips of "hard wood" is used. South African OSB consists of mainly pine wood and absorbs too much water. Because of our weather (very hot and cold) we treat both the solid pine wood and OSB structures with a varnish and sealant before assembling it.

5. We are currently providing service to private companies (security, construction and sport). Our aim however is to provide a end-to-end or closed-loop solution to informal settlements and rural areas where water, sanitation and health challenges are a cause of concern.

Although we have submitted our proposals to various stake holders within SA Government departments - it still remains a challenge to obtain funding to implement a project which addresses water, sanitation, waste management, health and employment.

I hope I addressed all your questions. Let me know if we can assist you somewhere in Africa.

Regards
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  • muench
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Re: Sustainable Waterless Sanitation and Waste Management Solutions - South Africa

Dear Henriette,

Could you tell us more about this?:

Our business started in Johannesburg - mainly to provide accessible sanitation to athletes/people with disabilities at events. (Another long discussion)

Sounds interesting. Also could you post some photos of your units?

Regards,
Elisabeth

P.S. By the way, feel free to add a link to your website into your forum signature like Kevin did above. Perhaps you don't want to come across as "advertising your product" but we do allow and encourage private sector participation on this forum. So don't be shy about promoting your company's website. :) I always say "friendly advertising" including answers to questions by forum users is very much encouraged.
Edit: Ops, now I see that I wrote something similar already in March. Well, it doesn't hurt to repeat it again, as there are always new people reading the threads.

Community manager and chief moderator of this forum
funded via SEI project until January 2019 ( www.susana.org/en/resources/projects/details/127 )

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant located in Brisbane, Australia
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Twitter: @EvMuench
Sanitation Wikipedia project leader: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Sanitation
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  • ECOlaTRINE
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Re: Sustainable Waterless Sanitation and Waste Management Solutions - South Africa

Hi
I've attached a picture of ECOlaTRINE Units - 5MB. It may not go through.
www.ecolatrine.co.za
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Re: Sustainable Waterless Sanitation and Waste Management Solutions - South Africa

Because the units are built from wood (sturdy, and control cold/heat) it can be built in any size to fit the requirements of the user. Anybody can build a toilet - and I've seen some elaborate designs.
My dad used to say: "It you design something - make sure it is Full Proof - any fool must be able to use it". Old people just want to make, and receive calls on their mobile - why do they make it so difficult to use it?
ECOlaTRINE build universally accessible toilets from wood - and we hope other suppliers will follow suit - in recycled material.
We do not subscribe to UD toilets for the following reasons;
1. Your feces has dried out - you throw it in your garden. How sure are you that all Pathogens and eggs are " killed" - and safe to use? Now apply it to large informal settlements?
2. You have liters of urine - to do what with? Send to the University for studies? I'm yet to see a small scale farmer applying a bottle of urine to his water supply for irrigation.
3. Is Africa ready for men/women who are used to open defecation - stand and pee, now sitting down to pee? Only with continuous education - which most programs lack.

The questions are:
- Will people pay (minimal amount) for clean sanitation - which they took ownership of?
- Can we create sustainable closed loop sanitation and waste management solutions through training, up-skill and employment opportunities.
Government and Municipalities still have a responsibility to provide services to their tax/rate payers, but if they only need to pay 30-40% towards sanitation, the community can take ownership and support themselves by selling compost, biogas and even enhance small scale agriculture to give higher yields. I think Kenia or Malawi had/has a communal program like this?

How much money will various Foundations spend on Sludge research in the future, trying to find solutions for waste of people who can afford flush toilets? It is necessary to address 65% (conservatively) of African sanitation needs.
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  • muench
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Re: Sustainable Waterless Sanitation and Waste Management Solutions - South Africa

Dear Henriette,

Thanks for the photos and the link to your website ( www.ecolatrine.co.za/ ).
Do I understand right that you offer the service of collection of the human excreta to all those who buy or rent a toilet from you? You then transport it to a composting site, is that correct? Could you post some information and photos of the transport and the composting operations?

I don't mind whether toilet solutions use urine diversion (UD) or not. Both have their pros and cons. However, I want to react to the disadvantages of UD that you listed in your post because I think they were a bit misleading.

You wrote:
"We do not subscribe to UD toilets for the following reasons;
1. Your feces has dried out - you throw it in your garden. How sure are you that all Pathogens and eggs are " killed" - and safe to use? Now apply it to large informal settlements?"

This is NOT the recommendation of a UD system. Just drying out the feces is not sufficient for complete pathogen kill, at least not at the household level. Therefore again there are two options: offering a collection system by a service provider. Or telling people to bury the material. Obviously, the option with a service provider is better when it's a dense settlement. The advantage for that service provider is that they have to come less frequently and it is far more pleasant than collecting wet faecal sludge.

You wrote:
"2. You have liters of urine - to do what with? Send to the University for studies? I'm yet to see a small scale farmer applying a bottle of urine to his water supply for irrigation."

Where it's safe to do so and where there is no need for fertiliser, the urine can be infiltrated into the ground. Where this is not possible, the urine could be collected and transported to a central site, same as your collection service for compost. There it could be added to a composting operation, for example. Or it could be dumped to a sewage treatment plant (which would feel like a waste though)

You wrote:
"3. Is Africa ready for men/women who are used to open defecation - stand and pee, now sitting down to pee? Only with continuous education - which most programs lack."

This thing about sitting comes up time and time again. It is not actually necessary. If men want to stand for peeing, just give them waterless urinals. If women want to stand they can have female urinals (see another thread on this forum here:
forum.susana.org/172-urinals/22296-inter...ew-wikipedia-article

You could even stand and pee into a urine diversion toilet, provided you aim a bit (and put up with a bit of splashing). But using a urinal, or sitting or squatting would be better.

Just to reiterate: I am not saying that urine diversion is the best and only solution. But I just wanted to clarify some misconceptions here.

Regards,
Elisabeth

Community manager and chief moderator of this forum
funded via SEI project until January 2019 ( www.susana.org/en/resources/projects/details/127 )

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant located in Brisbane, Australia
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Twitter: @EvMuench
Sanitation Wikipedia project leader: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Sanitation
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  • ECOlaTRINE
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Re: Sustainable Waterless Sanitation and Waste Management Solutions - South Africa

This is what we keep ourselves busy with.
Aubrey, the guy in the composting slide maintains his compost process with two 3/4 full containers of waste, urine and sawdust per week.

We believe that a sanitation solution should always be accompanied by a service agreement.
Servicing of the units depends on the number of users per week.
Decentralized composting sites enable us to travel within a small kilometer radius to the operations.
Although the square composting structure works very well, we also have cylinder type composting "barrels" which lakes less space during the windrow phase - 1sqm for approximately 2 ton.

Although I prefer container based sanitation, we are happy to use the urine from UDDT toilets as moisture content for the composting process.
It is really more important to provide a uncomplicated sanitation solution with an easy, affordable and effective way to manage the waste. If we can create employment and a healthier environment through a "waste to value" process, so much the better.
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