World's biggest eco-toilet scheme fails

22nd of August 2012
World's biggest eco-toilet scheme fails

A major experiment to build and install ecological toilets in Inner Mongolia has been quietly halted after three years due to problems concerning bad smells and maggots.

The toilets, designed by Sweden's Stockholm Environment Institute, were intended to save water and turn excrement into fertiliser.

Unlike normal lavatories the eco-toilets separate urine and excrement and use no water for flushing. Instead the cistern is filled with sawdust. Fans blow air out of the pipes towards the roof of the building in which an eco-toilet is installed to prevent odours from entering the living space.

However, complaints about strong smells of ammonia; maggots crawling out of toilets and increased numbers of cockroaches around the eco-toilets resulted in the formation of a residents' committee in the Daxing area of Inner Mongolia where the toilets were piloted.

"The stench of ammonia throughout the house meant I could hardly eat at home," said chairman of the residents' committee Yan Jianping. And resident Gao Jixiang added: "Getting home was like stepping into a public toilet."

Researcher at the Stockholm Environment Institute Arno Rosemarin visited the project and suggested the developer upgrade the water pipes, but there was mass support for a return to flushing toilets.

The entire sewerage and wastewater handling system has now been replaced and normal flushing toilets have been installed.


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