The Battle of Green Toilets: Composting Toilet vs Incinerating Toilets

Across the planet, thousands of people are taking a stand against common environmental issues by tackling the challenge to go green. One key component to ‘going green’ that you and your community must consider is water usage. According to City of Santa Cruz, any older model toilet predating 1982 may use five to seven gallons per flush. That’s almost 13,000 gallons of wasted water a year!

Water-less toilets are the new solution

Water-less toilets were created as a result of the “reinvent the toilet” challenge launched in 2011 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The goal in mind was to design a non-traditional toilet that was superior to the conventional bathroom appliance. The two most common types of water toilets are the Incinerating and Composting toilets.

The incinerating toilet…

The incinerating toilet is actually an less contemporary, older design that had it’s introduction in 1902. The toilet collects solid human waste and burns it, creating a sterile ash free of human pathogens. As reported by the ECOJOHN website, the toilet was designed for easy access in situations where typical plumbing and septic tank systems may not be available. All human pathogens are neutralized by the extreme heat in the waste disposal process used by incinerating toilets. Incinerating toilets require heat and electricity to function.

The composting toilet…

The composting toilet is a much more contemporary design, using the natural decomposition process. The solid fecal matter is collected in a small, discreet, odorless bin. The toilet is designed to maintain the correct oxygen levels to culture the bacteria used in the odor-free process of breaking down the solid waste. Due to the nature of the bacteria used in this process, inimical bacilli are neutralized. The resulting byproduct is free of harmful pathogens, and safe to use as a fertilizer.

How do water-less toilets benefit the environment?

One of the main purposes behind advocating for water-less toilets is that they are superior to the long-established, common appliance in the way of being the environmentally responsible choice for your home. Composting and incinerating toilets both contribute to the conservation of our planets water by breaking down solid human waste without flushing. Water-less toilets also give back a fertile compost or ash that can be used to fertilize gardens without spreading harmful disease.

Which one is environmentally superior?

Although both composting and incinerating toilets are both far more environmentally responsible than the traditional appliance, they are not equal to each other. The incinerating toilets require electricity to function, therefore eliminating them as an option in places where electricity is not available. The heating component in an incinerating toilet may release harmful gasses and fumes if they are not working properly. The use of electricity also means that non-replenish able natural resources may be used.

The composting toilet does not require any heat or electricity to function properly. They are all natural, organic, and the byproduct can be used as a fertilizer. Composting toilets can be installed anywhere without regards to climate or access to electricity. They require very little maintenance and are not labor intensive.

In conclusion, both the composting and incinerating toilets are more environmentally responsible and efficient that the common flushing appliance. However, because the incinerating toilet requires heat and electricity, they are not as ecological as the all natural, organic, efficient, composting toilet.

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