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Disposable Toilet To Change the World 413

captn ecks writes "A biodegradable and self-sterilizing bag for people of the toilet-disenfranchised world (40% of humankind) to dispose of their bodily waste and turn it into safe fertilizer has been created by a Swedish entrepreneur. It's a dead simple and brilliant solution to a vexing problem. From the article: 'Once used, the bag can be knotted and buried, and a layer of urea crystals breaks down the waste into fertilizer, killing off disease-producing pathogens found in feces. The bag, called the Peepoo, is the brainchild of Anders Wilhelmson, an architect and professor in Stockholm. “Not only is it sanitary,” said Mr. Wilhelmson, who has patented the bag, “they can reuse this to grow crops.”'"


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Disposable Toilet To Change the World

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  • by niko9 ( 315647 ) on Monday March 08, 2010 @03:48PM (#31404242)

    Joseph Jenkins --author of the Humanure Handbook-- has been doing this for close to thirty years. His concept also has the benefit of being patent free and simpler. Look see here:

    All you need is a 5 gallon bucket, some cover material (rice hulls, sawdust, shredded newspaper, or coffee grounds), and teensy bit of brain power.

    You can get the book on Amazon or download it for free from his site: []

  • cost (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lord Ender ( 156273 ) on Monday March 08, 2010 @03:49PM (#31404246) Homepage

    The most important factor is cost. It will have to be fantastically cheap to manufacture and distribute this if you want to sell it to people who subsist on $0.10 of rice per day. People who are used to flinging poo out the windows of their shacks will probably be perplexed by the idea of paying to take a dump.

    And yes, I have dodged chamber pots in India. Prepare to be depressed if you ever visit the third world :-/

  • Already exists (Score:2, Informative)

    by frist ( 1441971 ) on Monday March 08, 2010 @03:51PM (#31404278) [] [] Too late. These are already in use. The "poo powder" is some kind of fungus that reacts w/the heat and liquid and gives off gas that kills the bacteria, so you can toss the bag in a trash can, landfill etc.
  • by cyberzephyr ( 705742 ) on Monday March 08, 2010 @03:55PM (#31404346) Journal

    I'm really glad to see that someone found a way to make human waste safe for crops.

    That has been a big issue in general for farmers in countries where there are less than adequate water safety facilities.

    It's hard to afford fertilizer in war-torn or otherwise de-stabilized countries when you have a bunch of kids to feed.

  • by Lundse ( 1036754 ) on Monday March 08, 2010 @03:58PM (#31404402)

    Occam's Razor does not have to do with solutions, it has to do with chosing a hypothesis.

    But yeah, I salute a simple solution. And hope that it also works... :-)

  • Re:Already exists (Score:3, Informative)

    by pz ( 113803 ) on Monday March 08, 2010 @04:00PM (#31404424) Journal [] []

    Too late. These are already in use. The "poo powder" is some kind of fungus that reacts w/the heat and liquid and gives off gas that kills the bacteria, so you can toss the bag in a trash can, landfill etc.

    If you read the article (I know, I know) the Pee-Poo was designed to fit within the existing habits of some of the developing world where people already use plasic bags to dispose of their excrement, tossing it into open spaces. A standing toilet (like The Pett) would require more room and a change in behavior. The Pee-Poo just means buying special-purpose plastic bags, with the side benefit that (a) the waste is sterlized, and (b) it potentially can be reused as fertilizer if the community can organize and plan at those sorts of timescales. I'd be interested to see what sort of testing they did to ensure that these bags do, in fact, sterilize their contents. The Pee-Poo article was short on that detail.

  • Re:cost (Score:4, Informative)

    by Pojut ( 1027544 ) on Monday March 08, 2010 @04:00PM (#31404430) Homepage

    From TFA: "He plans to sell it for about 2 or 3 cents -- comparable to the cost of an ordinary plastic bag."

  • Re:cost (Score:5, Informative)

    by niko9 ( 315647 ) on Monday March 08, 2010 @04:00PM (#31404434)

    See my above post. I was in a hurry to write before, but now I have a few minutes to elaborate.

    Using Mr. Jenkin's humanure method, one only needs a small bucket and clean cover material; all things that should be available locally. The humanure toilet can be kept indoors with no smell or chance of spreading any disease. After one year you will have a nice small compost pile that you can use on your food crops. No need to ship in bags or pay any patent royalties.

  • by confused one ( 671304 ) on Monday March 08, 2010 @04:04PM (#31404490)
    He based the idea on an existing observed behaviour. But he's using a bio-degradeable bag instead of a polyethylene bag.
  • by postglock ( 917809 ) on Monday March 08, 2010 @04:10PM (#31404592)
    From the article: "He also found that slum dwellers there collected their excrement in a plastic bag and disposed of it by flinging it He plans to sell it for about 2 or 3 cents — comparable to the cost of an ordinary plastic bag."
  • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Monday March 08, 2010 @04:25PM (#31404772)

    Urea, hmm were else is that found, hmm.

    Oh I know, urine. All we need to do is get them to shit and piss in the same latrine, or were you thinking they would use a seperate one for each?

  • Re:cost (Score:3, Informative)

    by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Monday March 08, 2010 @05:02PM (#31405234) Homepage

    He could, but the bucket option is better.

    By using a bucket, he can easily transport the manure to a compost pile, where it can become something useful. If you build a simple hole-in-the-ground outhouse, you don't get the fertilizer. If you build a composting outhouse (which is a good solution when you have a lot of people, especially if they're squeamish about it), you eventually have to shovel out the contents of said outhouse.

    And yes, I say this as someone who's worked on each of these systems.

  • by zero_out ( 1705074 ) on Monday March 08, 2010 @05:22PM (#31405528)

    Some people even believe that the moon landing was faked, and that the U.S. government caused the 2001 WTC attacks.

    I meant to say, "...and that the U.S. government faked the 2001 WTC attacks."

    Whether or not the U.S. government caused the attacks is debatable, depending on one's subjective definition of the word "caused," and one's view of culpability. Since I do not want to start an offtopic debate, I am correcting that sentence.

  • Re:cost (Score:3, Informative)

    by bkr1_2k ( 237627 ) on Monday March 08, 2010 @05:38PM (#31405742)

    Have you ever seen third world countries? The DO have "massive mountains of HDPE bags filled with human feces" amongst all the other trash that gets dumped wherever is most convenient to keep away from the rich folks.

  • Whoosh... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 08, 2010 @07:22PM (#31407450)
    That's the sound of K. S. Kyosuke's joke whizzing over your head. (Hint: Click his link, or even just pay attention to the fact it only spans one word.)
  • by Eclipse-now ( 987359 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @07:54AM (#31411872) Homepage
    I'll just point out that by not doing this in the west, we are effectively extracting phosphorus, nitrogen and calcium from our fields and pumping it into rivers and oceans. We then burn a load of fuel to dig up more phosphorus and calcium elsewhere and burn natural gas to produce nitrates to put back on the fields. It's dumb.

    It's not only dumb, it's dangerous, as we are fast approaching peak phosphorus but it will take years to adapt our sewerage and agricultural systems around the new realities when peak phosphorous affects world phosphorus prices. One podcast I heard from the University of Technology, Sydney, Sustainable Future's Institute mentioned something like 25 years to really prepare for peak phosphorus. They recommended starting early because we're going to have to get the departments of waste to talk to the departments of agriculture, etc. Huge infrastructure changes coming!

Riches cover a multitude of woes. -- Menander