Composting Toilets

Outdoor Composter, Linaea Farm, British Colombia
Outdoor Composter, Linaea Farm, British Colombia

It is said that wars of today are fought over oil, but the wars of tomorrow will be fought over water.  It could therefore be argued that the development and use of waterless sanitation systems may foster peace as well as promote a regenerative relationship to nature.

Composting Toilets have had a mixed history since their initial development in the first half of the 20th century. There have been many problems and disappointments with the technology, but the new generation of systems has solved the worst of them: odors, the build-up of excess liquids, energy use, problematic maintenance and an unpleasant and un-stabilized end product.

TM&A has been working with composting toilets since 1985 as a designer, user, operator, researcher and salesman of models including the SunMar, Humus and Phoenix.  We helped Joe Jenkins with the first edition of his now famous Humanure Handbook and believe that the humanure system is a wonderful technology in many applications.  Our recent work in this field includes consultation with clients on whether a composting toilet is appropriate for their particular use, and if so we recommend or design a system to meet the specific needs of the clients and site.  At this point we have no marketing relationship with any particular manufacturer.

Recent Project: Big Cypress National Park

In 2008 TM&A was hired by the national park service to design a set of back-country stand-alone composting toilet facilities under a rather extreme set of circumstances. The project was in Big Cypress National Park, the northern extent of the Florida everglades. Below are the specific design constraints that the NPS needed met:
• Waterproof against high groundwater and major storms events
• Windproof, able to withstand hurricane force gales
• Able to be easily cleaned and maintained on an infrequent basis by unskilled labor
• Odorless to the user
• Able to produce all of the electricity required by the facilities on-site
• The facilities had to be able to be transported to their remote locations in sections by all-terrain vehicles
• All liquids to be evaporated on-site
• Stabilized solid waste to be hauled off-site for final disposal

TM&A Documents on Composting Toilets

< Small Composting Toilet Fact Sheet

 Phoenix Compost Toilet Fact Sheet

 Small & Hybrid Compost Toilets, Gray Water & Constructed Wetlands Fact Sheet

Walt Whitman

This Compost

a Poem by Walt Whitman