The Benefits of Composting Toilets
Making a Big Difference
The advantages of natural waste treatment systems are many and varied.
The following section shows the benefits of the system in comparison to existing waterborne waste treatment systems. These benefits improve conditions for the individual, the community and the environment.
An understanding of how your system benefits the individual and the community will help you to maintain it and confidently explain it to others.
Benefits to the Individual
There are many great reasons to use a composting toilet!
Water Use Reduction (20-50%)
A significant savings in water storage will result if the household is not on reticulated water supply. Combine this with wastewater re-utilisation in irrigation and other household water reduction techniques and water storage costs can be cut by up to 60%.
Shock Loading Capacity
Loading shock for large gatherings is achieved easily with correctly sized composting toilet systems.
Odour Problems Reduced
The suction air flow in most composting toilets takes toilet and bathroom odor out of the room and acts like a constant extraction fan.
Lower Household Maintenance Costs
Sewage rates and water rates (metered) can be in the order of $500 per year, a significant cost. This will only increase if the demand for sewage system upgrading increases. Other on-site systems have annual maintenance costs that are obligatory. Local authorities will be increasingly paying rebates to households who own composting toilets.
End Product Recycled
While only small in amount, the solid end product is a valuable humic fertiliser that can be utilised around trees and gardens.
Reduced Greywater Loading
Where composting toilets are installed instead of septic and mini-treatment systems, there is a large reduction in the “loading” on the effluent treatment system by the removal of “blackwater.” Smaller, less maintenance, greywater systems are possible.
A household with a composting system is independent from potential problems of the waterborne sewage system. If future water shortage or system backup problems occur with conventional systems, there is not much that you can do personally about it. On-site composting systems are much more flexible, they are easier to fix and have less damage potential if operated incorrectly.
The composting toilet possesses the ability to recycle much of your household waste. Food scraps, paper, lawn clippings and grease from you grease traps and greywater systems can be composted back through the toilet. If you choose to put in a reed bed greywater systems, the annual clippings can also be composted. There is no wastage in this system.
Composting toilets can be installed in many different situations which would not accommodate other systems. Rocky sites, high water table, no water storage, environmentally sensitive, close to running watercourses, and swampy ground. All these difficult site situations can be accommodated with a small amount of alteration to the basic system design.
Benefits to the Community & the Environment
Together with the personal benefits of the composting toilet there are overall benefits to the society and the environment.
A reduction in water use allows the large capital costs of dams and reservoirs to be spread over a greater population. It also enables decentralised water sources to be used.
Reduced Marine Pollution
Nutrient load on streams and rivers is almost negligible. This results in more oxygen being available in the water and a return to improved activity of marine life.
Pollution Detected Quickly
Without sewage systems to flush away wastes, It would be easier to ascertain where toxic wastes are being leaked into watercourses. Industry would be more willing to rectify these problems if it were easier to identify the sources.
Miscalculation in individual composting systems has a much smaller impact than the same mistake in a large centralised system. It is also easier to rectify and return to normal operation.
Flexibility of Planning
Composting toilet systems are built only when the need arises. The high headwork and treatment costs of conventional sewage systems must be borne by the community ahead of development. If development does not go as planned, then money is wasted.
Less Environmental Impact
Compared to sewage systems, on-site composting and greywater treatment has less impact on the environment:
• Large effluent releases into watercourses and oceans are avoided.
• Disruption to soils systems through pipeline installation is eliminated.
• Leakage of raw sewage into groundwater through pipe deterioration and breakage is eliminated.
Flexibility in Estate Planning
By eliminating the planning constraints of the sewage system underground piping and infrastructure, housing developments can be designed with more emphasis on environmental and social considerations, rather than how best to situate the blocks to make pipes run straighter.
For such a simple technology, the benefits to the individual and to the community are quite amazing!