COMPOSTING TOILETS

What Are Composting Toilets and Why Do We Care?
Every time we Falmouthers flush a toilet we use about two gallons of water to carry away just a fraction of that volume in human waste. On average, each American uses 7,665 gallons of clean, potable water each year simply flushing the toilet. So we pollute a lot of clean water with a small amount of waste. In conventional sewer systems, this waste is collected, moved long distances, treated at great expense, and released, often still polluted with some amount of nutrients and other contaminants. And discharging all that collected water is a problem — who wants leaching pits in their neighborhood or discharge pipes to their river or bay? Composting  toilets, also sometimes known as waterless, dry or biological toilets, by contrast, collect only waste and use no water. They capture human waste in a container and convert it into compostable material.


composting toilet --biolet10How Do They Work?
Modern composting toilets, which look similar to conventional low‐flush toilets, rely on aerobic (oxygen‐dependent) bacteria and fungi to convert the wastes into compost.    Vents and fans increase air flow, and rotors, either hand‐crank or automatic, aerate wastes at least once a week. A proper balance between solids and liquids in the waste storage bin (reactor) is critical—if it’s too wet, oxygen can’t reach the compost and it becomes anaerobic and smells. In addition, the bin ideally needs to be at a temperature of 60 to 65 degrees F; below 55 degrees F, composting slows down almost to a halt. Read More…

  COMPOSTING TOILETS AT A GLANCE
  PROS   CONS
  • Composting toilet systems do not require water for flushing, and thus, hugely reduce domestic water consumption.
  • Composting toilet systems in general require little outside energy.
  • Because composting toilets are self-contained, waste does not need to be transported by pipes or trucks to treatment plants.
  • Composted human waste can be used as compost and provide important nutrients for non-edible plants and trees.
  • The use of composting toilets also keeps not only nutrients but also some pathogens out of surface and groundwater.
  • Composting toilets require much more work and commitment from owners than regular flush toilets.
  • If the composting toilet is not properly maintained, there can be odors, problems with material not being fully processed, insect infestations, etc.
  • If the composting process is not functioning properly use of the resultant compost can be a health hazard.
  • Most composting toilets require an external power source for heating, ventilation, etc., which can result in problems when the power is out for an extended period.
  • In general, composting toilets require that users also use a graywater system.
  SOURCE: http://water.epa.gov/aboutow/owm/upload/2005_07_14_comp.pdf