The EcoSan and GroSan toilets are composting toilets designed to convert waste into a soil conditioning compost and fertilizer.
The EcoSan and GroSan toilets are urine diverting dry toilets (UDDTs) and container based sanitation (CBS) systems with the additional capability of composting to convert waste into a soil conditioning compost and fertilizer. To avoid contaminating the environment, the toilets are built above ground with sealable containers, making them suitable for locations with high water tables or for disaster relief. The implementation of the toilets varies depending on the location and users, adapting for: schools, families, and urban communities.
The EcoSan model is designed to be a permanent twin chamber installation for household use and onsite treatment. The EcoSan blocks are designed for schools and offer separate private facilities for girls.
The GroSan model is designed to be semipermanent and moveable for urban community settings, with offsite treatment.
Both toilets rely on decomposition and dehydration to convert waste into a soil conditioning compost and fertilizer. The fertilizer products can then be sold to make a profit.
India and Africa
The fixed UDDT toilet model costs 700 USD (with no maintenance required), and the mobile unit costs 600 USD with an additional monthly maintenance cost of ~ 2 USD per family. Interview with representative in 2021
Goal 6: Clean water and sanitation
Communities, schools, and families with sanitation needs
This product is produced by Sanitation First, but anybody can replicate the open-source design and Sanitation First offers assistance and training. Interview with representative in 2021
Open-source Interview with representative in 2021
Sanitation First does not sell the product directly, but rather assists in raising money and building units in the areas that they work in. Interview with representative in 2021
As of 2021, ~5,000 toilets have been distributed.
Type of toilet
Method of evacuation
How the fecal sludge is stored
The holding volume of the containment
Time until emptying is estimated to be needed
The EcoSan toilets are built above ground with collection containers underneath. The toilets do not require water or pipelines.
All toilets are Urine Diverting Dry Toilets (UDDTs), equipped with ceramic squat plates that assist in separating urine and feces. The toilets are surrounded by aluminum composite panels.
The feces is collected in a chamber underneath the toilet where dry ash, soil, or sawdust (located in a bucket next to the toilet) is added to speed up the dehydration process.
Urine and wash water are collected in separate containers.
The GroSan toilets are used in urban settings and are container-based sanitation (CBS) systems where the waste is collected in sealable containers. There are four containers positioned on rollers underneath the toilet – where only one is actively filled at a time and then rotated out. Containers are typically filled within a week and then rotated out to start the decomposition process so that by the third week the first container can be emptied. After 28 days, the waste is collected by operators and transported to an offsite compound where the waste is decomposed for an additional 90 days (sanitation phase). Afterwards, an additional 60 day stabilisation phase involving aerobic thermophilic composting, manual mixing, and the addition of additives (including sugarcane press mud and animal manure). The final product is commercial grade (pathogen free) compost ready for sale and agricultural application.
When used in rural settings, the EcoSan toilets collect urine in a separate container, which can be used immediately as liquid fertilizer. Feces is decomposed on site through dehydration and the end product can be used as a soil conditioning fertilizer.
Sanitation First implants a four-stage Inner City Sanitation model using GroSan toilets:
Stage 1: Education and Motivation. Inform communities about proper hygiene, toilet usage, and associated benefits.
Stage 2: GroSan Toilets. The construction and installation of the toilets.
Stage 3: Collect and Service. A cleaning and collection service visits the toilets regularly.
Stage 4: Compost and Sale. The waste is processed offsite and turned into an agricultural grade compost to be sold. The final composting product is made up of the collected waste (40%) and added organic materials (60%).
Provided by the manufacturer.
By improving access to sanitation services, Sanitation First hopes to improve community health, increase educational and job opportunities, reduce poverty and disease, increase safety for women and girls, and restore users’ dignity.
From an environmental perspective, the toilets will reduce waste pollution and water use and transform waste into compost.
Sanitation First also emphasizes education regarding hygiene and sanitation.
To date, Sanitation First has built 5,001 toilets serving 55,867 people daily, and produced 13,530 tons of compost.
The GroSan toilet was evaluated and compared alongside several other CBS services.
The EcoSan and GroSan toilets have been implemented in Cuddalore and Puducherry, India. The EcoSan block model has been implemented in over 100 schools. 150 GroSan toilets were field-tested in two locations. Starting in 2009, 40 toilets were installed in Cuddalore. In 2014, 60 toilets were installed throughout Puducherry and in 2018 an additional 50 toilets were added.
Possible hazards include unsanitary latrine emptying or structural failure.
A cleaning and collection service is provided by Sanitation First to keep the toilets in usable conditions.
Mackinnon, E., 2019, Exposure Risk Management from Faecal Pathogens for Workers in Container Based Sanitation Systems, PhD Dissertation, University College London.
Padmapriya, T.S., 2019, Grosan Toilets Sustainable sanitation solution with full resource recovery.
General information about ecological sanitation and composting toilets:
Kramer, S. et al., 2011, The SOIL Guide to Ecological Sanitation, Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL).
Morgan, P., 2007, Toilets That Make Compost: Low-cost, sanitary toilets that produce valuable compost for crops in an African context, EcoSanRes Programme Report, pp. 114.
Winblad, U., Simpson-Hebert, M., 2004, Ecological Sanitation – Revised and enlarged edition, Stockholm Environment Institute, Sweden.
The entire process from containment to composting operates under compliance of the WHO Sanitation Safety Plans and the Manual Scavenging Act 2013.
This product is evaluated by Sanitation First based on the number of toilets built, number of people and uses, and tons of compost produced.
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