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The TRUTH about composting toilets

Updated: Jun 21, 2023

Did you know that the average Australian household uses around 50,000 litres of water a year just to flush their toilets?

That’s enormous water usage!

On that front, composting toilets offer a more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional flush toilets by reducing water usage and eliminating odour. When waste is mixed with materials like sawdust, peat moss, or coconut coir and exposed to airflow, anaerobic processing occurs, eliminating the need for water to flush the waste away.

In the Australia, 27% of household water usage is attributed to flushing toilets. The current regulation requires toilets to use a maximum of 6 litres of water per flush, but toilets made before 1992 may use up to 26 litres per flush. Even with the reduced water usage standard, a toilet that is flushed five times a day can use up to 8,842 litres of water in a year.

There are two main types of composting toilets to consider: self-contained systems and centralised systems.

Self-contained systems are complete units that can be installed in small spaces or in multi-story homes. These systems typically have all the necessary components contained within a single unit.

Centralised systems, on the other hand, involve a large, centralised tank that is installed either underneath the home or outside. Waste is flushed to the storage tank, which can come in different types with varying numbers of storage chambers. These systems can provide a more familiar experience, as they are similar to traditional toilets.

Why consider a composting toilet?

There are several reasons to consider a composting toilet, such as reducing water usage, saving money, and minimising environmental impact. These types of toilets may make the most sense in certain scenarios, such as when you are building in an area without access to a septic system, your structure is not connected to a pre-existing septic system, or you want to relieve pressure on your existing plumbing system.

While composting toilets may have a higher initial cost compared to traditional toilets, their long-term benefits, including cost savings and reduced environmental impact, can make them a worthwhile investment. In households with plumbing already in place, adding a composting toilet can help relieve pressure on the system and reduce costs while still maintaining the convenience of indoor plumbing.

With that being said, make sure you read to the bottom of this article where we compare composting toilets to the Laveo Dry Flush, which is another water-free alternative that is perfect in off-grid locations where power water and plumbing can be issues.

What are the primary benefits of a composting toilet?

Composting toilets offer several main benefits, including reduced water usage, cost savings on water bills, and promotion of composting and more productive soil.

These toilets use little to no water and turn waste into compost that can be used as fertiliser in the environment.

By composting household waste, you can promote more fertile soil and potentially produce more food independently.

Composting also helps to regenerate poor soil by increasing the production of microorganisms, retaining moisture, reducing pests and plant diseases, increasing agricultural productivity, and eliminating the need for chemical fertilisers and pesticides.

In addition, composting can bind heavy metals, eliminate wood preservatives, pesticides, and hydrocarbons in contaminated soil, and prevent pollutants from being absorbed by plants or water sources.

By reducing organic materials in landfills, you can also help minimise the production of methane and leachate formulation, and realise economic benefits from reduced water, fertiliser, and pesticide usage.

What does a composting toilet cost?

The cost of a composting toilet can vary. A good self-contained composting toilet like the Nature's Head, generally starts at around $2,100, but it is possible to build your own for about $150 if you have the necessary skills and resources.

Building your own composting toilet may require materials such as cover material to absorb waste, a bucket, plywood, particleboard, a medical-grade toilet seat, and hardware. Keep in mind that you will also need to have an outdoor composting bin system in place before installing a composting toilet.

Instructions for building your own composting toilet can be found online. It's worth noting that installing a septic system can be significantly more expensive, with costs up to 75% higher than a composting toilet.

Are there any DISADVANTAGES to composting toilets?

There are a few potential disadvantages to using a composting toilet, such as the need for manual waste removal, limited capacity in smaller units, and the requirement for a power source in most systems.

Composting toilets also may not be aesthetically pleasing and may need to be used in conjunction with a grey-water system.

Proper installation and maintenance are important to ensure that the toilet functions effectively and efficiently, but if done improperly, the system can produce odours and unprocessed material.

The compost storage box must be carefully monitored for temperature, moisture, pH levels, air circulation, and the level of biological organisms to ensure that the household waste is being properly broken down.

In addition, the process of manually removing the end product from the toilet can be unpleasant. Overall, using a composting toilet requires a higher level of maintenance and manual upkeep compared to traditional flush toilets. Furthermore, you must have power running to the toilet's ventilation fan at all times otherwise you may have serious issues with smell.

Do the benefits outweigh the hassle?

Despite the potential challenges, many people find that the benefits of a composting toilet outweigh the hassle.

These benefits include promoting the composting of kitchen and bathroom waste, reducing dependence on conventional plumbing and sewage systems, decreasing overall water usage, reducing household maintenance costs, decreasing marine pollution, detecting water pollution more easily, providing flexibility in land development, reducing gray-water loading, and having a less negative impact on the environment.

While operating a composting toilet system may require some regulation and monitoring, it does not require special training and can be easily managed. In addition, composting toilet systems can be incorporated into a property at any time, unlike conventional sewage systems which require advanced planning during development. Overall, composting toilets offer a more environmentally friendly and flexible alternative to traditional plumbing systems.

A better alternative to a composting toilet?

One alternative worth consideration is the Laveo Dry Flush toilet which uses no water at all, and can be placed anywhere because it’s electric and requires no plumbing or vents of any kind. The Laveo Dry Flush Toilet is self-contained and uses a unique method for portable toilet waste disposal. Its patented mylar bagging system operates fans, a vacuum, and a motor to instantly wrap and hygienically seal waste after the flush button is pressed.

This system does not require any chemicals, composting bricks, or vents, and can be easily moved to any location. The main benefit of the Laveo toilet is its ability to eliminate odors, as it spins an airtight mylar bag around waste before offering the next user a fresh seat. A video demonstrating how the toilet works is available online. Here’s a video of it working so you can see the system yourself.

Is it hard to setup a Laveo toilet?

Setting up the Laveo Dry Flush Toilet is straightforward, with only one moving part. It is a self-contained and portable toilet that does not need to be connected to any external systems, though you may want to secure it with clips. The most important aspect of using the toilet is ensuring that the battery is charged or that it is plugged in when in use. The only other installation requirement is for the internal cartridges, which we will discuss later.

Using the Laveo Dry Flush Toilet is similar to using a regular toilet. Simply take a seat, press the flush button when you are finished, and let the toilet do its work. The toilet seat is comfortable and familiar, making it a convenient choice for those who prioritize comfort and ease of use. As the toilet is waterless, there is no risk of spilling once the flush button has been pressed. Overall, the Laveo toilet is designed with comfort and convenience in mind and is a hassle-free option for toilet needs.

Other benefits of a Dry Flush toilet rather than a composting toilet...

One other benefit of the Laveo is that it never jams or blocks. It can accept a wide range of materials, including human waste, food, and feminine hygiene products. However, it does have a limited capacity, so it is not suitable for larger items like leftover chicken pot roast.

When you flush the toilet, its contents are quickly and hygienically wrapped and sealed, locking in the waste and odors and compressing them into the bottom of the receptacle.

Once the wrapping process is complete, a new mylar lining is applied to the bowl, making it ready for the next use. Overall, the Laveo toilet is an effective and hygienic option for disposing of a variety of materials.

You also don't need to have continuous power to the toilet as you do with a composting toilet because composting toilets always need the ventilation fan running, otherwise you will get some horrific smells over time.

What about cleanliness?

One of the major benefits of the Laveo Dry Flush toilet is its ease and cleanliness in managing waste after it has been used. The contents of the mylar-wrapped parcels, which are sealed and smell-free, are kept in a heavy-duty garbage bag that can be easily lifted out, wrapped, and thrown away in a regular garbage bin, similar to a doggy bag or dirty diaper. You should change the bagging cartridge and dispose of the waste in this way every 15 flushes. Even if you are unable to dispose of the garbage bag immediately, the proprietary waste wrapping system ensures that there is no odour at all. The main advantage of the Laveo toilet is its combination of convenience and portability, allowing you to simply flush and be done with waste management. You can buy the Laveo right here on this website!

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