• Groundwater under threat from diffuse contaminants: improving on-site sanitation, agriculture and water supply practices
  • Published:

Evaluation of the quality and quantity of compost and leachate from household waterless toilets in France

Abstract

One of the most undesired wastes is the human excreta due to the socio-environmental pressure. Otherwise, the nutriments contained in human excreta could be used as fertilizers to enrich the soil. Familial waterless litter composting toilets (FWLCT) are an alternative for locations where a centralized sewerage network cannot be provided or where there is a lack of standard urban infrastructure including roads, electricity, and water supply. The scientific researches on the composting techniques, the methods of control of the composting processors, and the rate of produced leachate are very limited. In this research, the composting systems included a feces and urine collection device. In each passage, the litter (carbonaceous material) is added to the excreta. Regularly, the buckets were emptied into a composting device located outside the house to which an additional portion of carbonaceous materials can be added. Monitoring was carried out on five rural and one urban familial composting areas in France for 1.5 years. The physiochemical and microbiological properties of the compost and leachate have been monitored and measured in compliance with the protocols. The results show that one of the main problems of this system of human excreta treatment is that the composting process does not achieve a significant rise in temperature and does not allow reaching the optimum temperatures (> 50 °C). Otherwise, from an agronomic point of view, the obtained compost is not rich enough in nutriments to be a good compost as soil fertilizer. But it can be used as a soil conditioner. The average leachate flux from the composters is 1.79 L/day. Because of the very short stay time in the piles, the leachate is contaminated by harmful bacteria and should be treated by another sanitation system.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8

References

  1. Abbott R (2004) Skaneateles Lake watershed, composting toilet project. Small flows Q 5(2):32–39

    Google Scholar 

  2. Adani F, Ubbiali C, Generini P (2006) The determination of biological stability of composts using the Dynamic Respiration Index: the results of experience after two years. Waste Manag (New York, N.Y.) 26(1):41–48

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Anand CK, Apul DS (2014) Composting toilets as a sustainable alternative to urban sanitation—a review. Waste Manag 34(2):329–343

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Bartram J, Sandy Cairncross S (2010) Hygiene, sanitation, and water: forgotten foundations of health. PLoS Med 7(11):1–9

  5. Baum R, Luh J, Bartram J (2013) Sanitation: a global estimate of sewerage connections without treatment and the resulting impact on MDG progress. Environ Sci Technol 47:1994–2000

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Bernal MP, Alburquerque JA, Moral R (2009) Composting of animal manures and chemical criteria for compost maturity assessment. A review. Bioresour Technol 100:5444–5453

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. de Bertoldi M, Vallini G, Pera A (1983) The biology of composting: a review. Waste Manage Res 1:157–176

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Boulter-Bitzer JI, Trevors JT, Boland GJ (2006) A polyphasic approach for assessing maturity and stability in compost intended for suppression of plant pathogens. Appl Soil Ecol 34:65–81

  9. Brewer LJ, Sullivan DM (2003) Maturity and stability evaluation of composted yard trimmings. Compost Science & Utilization 11(2):96–112

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Brinton WF (2000) Compost quality standards and guidelines: an international view. ME, Woods End Research Laboratory Inc

  11. Bronick CJ, Lal R (2004) Soil structure and management: a review. Geoderma 124(1–2):3–22

    Google Scholar 

  12. California Integrated Waste Management Board (2007) Compost quality: performance requirements—matching performance needs with product characteristics [online]. Available from http://www.ciwmb.ca.gov/Organics/Products/Quality/Needs.htm

  13. Chan KY, Heenan DP, So HB (2003) Sequestration of carbon and changes in soil quality under conservation tillage on light-textured soils in Australia: a review. Aust J Exp Agric 43:325–334

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Chapman PD (1993) Compost toilets: an option for human waste disposal at remote sites. Lincoln University. http://researcharchive.lincoln.ac.nz/handle/10182/3016

  15. Chefetz B, Hatcher PG, Hadar Y, Chen Y (1996) Chemical and biological characterization of organic matter during composting of municipal solid waste. J Environ Qual 25(4):776–785

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  16. Circular (2007) Règlementation française relative aux plans de gestion des déchets ménagers. http://www.ineris.fr/aida/consultation_document/7295

  17. Compost Ingredients (2012) http://www.the-compostgardener.com/compostingredients.html#axzz22zsZdjAv> (accessed August 2012) (Unpublished Work)

  18. Cordova A, Knuth B (2005) Barriers and strategies for dry sanitation in large-scale and urban settings. Urban Water J 2:245–262

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Del Porto D, Steinfeld C (1998) The composting toilet system book: a practical guide to choosing, planning and maintaining composting toilet systems, a water-saving, pollution-preventing alternative. Center for ecological pollution prevention, New York

  20. Depledge D (1997) Design examples of waterless composting toilets. South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission. Report 249. <http://www.pacificwater.org/userfiles/file/MR0249.pdf> (accessed February 2013)

  21. Dharmabalan P (1988) Small waste disposal systems. Papua new guinea university of technology department of civil engineering, Papua

  22. Dzwairo B, Hoko Z, Love D, Guzha E (2006) Assessment of the impacts of pit latrines on groundwater quality in rural areas: a case study from Marondera district, Zimbabwe. Phys Chem Earth Parts A/B/C 31(15):779–788

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Enferadi KM (1981) A field evaluation of the waterless toilet as an alternative to the failing soil absorption system. In: Individual onsite wastewater systems—proceedings of the NSF eighth national conference 1981: 201–209

  24. Epstein E (1997) The Science of Composting. Technomic Publishing Company Inc., Lancaster, p 487

    Google Scholar 

  25. Feachem RG, Bradley DJ, Garelick H, Mara DD (1983) Sanitation and disease. Health aspects of excreta and wastewater management. World bank studies in water supply and sanitation. John Willey and Sons, New York

    Google Scholar 

  26. Fittschen I, Niemczynowicz J (1997) Experiences with dry sanitation and greywater treatment in the ecovillage Toarp, Sweden. Water Sci Technol 35:161–170

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  27. Flynn RP, Wood CW (1996) Temperature and chemical changes during composting of broiler litter. Compost Science & Utilization 4(3):62–70

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Franceys R (1992) A guide to the development of on-site sanitation. WHO, Geneva

    Google Scholar 

  29. Gajalakshmi S, Abbasi SA (2008) Solid waste management by composting: state of the art. Crit Rev Environ Sci Technol 38:311–400

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  30. Germer J, Boh MY, Schoeffler M, Amoah P (2010) Temperature and deactivation of microbial faecal indicators during small scale co-composting of faecal matter. Waste Manag 30:185–191

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Grewal SK, Rajeev S, Sreevatsan S, Fredrick CM (2006) Persistence of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis and other zoonotic pathogens during simulated composting, manure packing, and liquid storage of dairy manure. Appl Environ Microbiol 72:565–574

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  32. Haug RT, Haug HT (1993) The practical handbook of compost engineering. Boca Raton, Lewis publishers, CRC Press Inc

  33. Heinrich D, Hergt M (1993) Atlas de l'écologie. LGF, Livre de Poche, Paris

  34. Hill GB, Susan AB (2012) Vermicomposting toilets, an alternative to latrine style microbial composting toilets, prove far superior in mass reduction, pathogen destruction, compost quality, and operational cost. Waste Manag 32(10):1811–1820

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  35. Holmqvist A, Stenstrom AT (2002) Survival of Ascaris suum ova, indicator bacterial and salmonella typhimurium phage 28B in mesophilic composting of household waste. EcoSanRes, Stolkholm Environment Institute, Sweden

    Google Scholar 

  36. Hsu JH, Lo SL (1999) Recycling of separated pig manure: characterization of maturity and chemical fractionation of elements during composting. Water Sci Technol 40(1):121–127

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  37. Huang RT (1993) The practical handbook of compost engineering. Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton, ISBN 0-87371, pp 373–377

    Google Scholar 

  38. Iglesias Jiménez E, Pérez Garcia V (1991) Composting of domestic refuse and sewage sludge. I. Evolution of temperature, pH, C/N ratio, and cation exchange capacity. Resour Conserv Recycl 6(1):45–60

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Inbar Y, Hadar Y, Chen Y (1993) Recycling of cattle manure: the composting process and characterization of maturity. J Environ Qual 22(4):857–863

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Jenkins J (1999) The humanure handbook: a guide to composting human manure, 2nd edn. Jenkins Publishing, Grove City, p 154

    Google Scholar 

  41. Jenkins J (2005) The humanure handbook. Chelsea Green Publishing, White River Junciton

    Google Scholar 

  42. Jensen PKM, Phuc PD, Konradsen F (2009) Survival of Ascaris eggs and hygienic quality of human excreta in Vietnamese composting latrines. Environ Health 8:57

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Kaczala F (2006) A review of dry toilet systems. Department of Technology, University of Kalmar, Linnaeus

  44. Ko HJ, Kim KY, Kim HT, Kim CN, Umeda M (2008) Evaluation of maturity parameters and heavy metal contents in composts made from animal manure. Waste Management 28:813–820

  45. Lasaridi KE, Stentiford EI, Evans T (2000) Windrow composting of wastewater biosolids: process performance and product stability assessment. Water Sci Technol 42(9):217–226

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  46. Leich HH (1981) Norwegians test 21 composting toilets. Biocycle 22(2):22–23

    Google Scholar 

  47. Li HF, Imai T, Ukita M, Sekine M, Higuchi T (2004) Compost stability assessment using a secondary metabolite: geosmin. Environ Technol 25(11):1305–1312

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  48. Mathur SP, Owen G, Dinel H, Schnitzer M (1993) Determination of compost biomaturity. I. Literature review. Biol Agric Hortic 10:65–85

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Miller FC (1992) Composting as a process based on the control of ecologically selective factors. In: Metting FB Jr (ed) Soil microbial ecology, applications in agricultural and environmental management. Marcel Dekker Inc., New York, pp 515–544

    Google Scholar 

  50. Nataka S, Zavala MAL, Funamizu N, Otaki M, Takakuwa T (2003) Temperature effect on pathogens decline in the bio-toilet system. In: Proceedings of the 1st International Dry Toilet Conference: Dry Toilet. Tampere, Finland

  51. NFU 44-095 (2004) Amendements organiques - Composts contenant des matières d’intérêt agronomique, issues du traitement des eaux. French national standard collection. composting of the sludge form wastewater plants, Paris

  52. Paterson C, Mara D, Curtis T (2007) Pro-poor sanitation technologies. Geoforum 38(5):901–907

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Prüss-Ustün A, Bartram J, Clasen T, Colford JM, Cumming O, Curtis V, Bonjour S, Dangour AD, De France J, Fewtrell L (2014) Burden of disease from inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene in low-and middle-income settings: a retrospective analysis of data from 145 countries. Tropical Med Int Health 19(8):894–905

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. Pujari PR, Nanoti M, Nitnaware VC, Khare LA, Thacker N, Kelkar P (2007) Effect of on-site sanitation on groundwater contamination in basaltic environment case study from India. Environ Monit Assess 134(1):271

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  55. Rapaport D (1996) The CCD toilet. An aerobic double vault composting toilet for tropical environments that achieves zero-discharge sanitation with low maintenance requirements. Center for Clean Development, Oregon

    Google Scholar 

  56. Redlinger T, Graham J, Corella-Barud V (2001) Survival of fecal coliforms in dry-composting toilets. Appl Environ Microbiol 67:4036–4040

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  57. Rubin AR, Claude P, Jerry S (2012) On-site wastewater treatment systems. Washington State Department of Health, Recommended Standards and Guidance for Performance, Application, Design, & Operation Maintenance. DOH Publication, Washington

  58. Savage AJ, Tyrrel SF (2004) Compost liquor bioremediation using waste materials as bio filtration media. Bioresour Technol 96(5):557–564

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  59. Smith ME (1981) Evaluation of compost toilets. United States Department of Agriculture, Equipment Development Centre, San Dimas

    Google Scholar 

  60. Smith ED, Poon CP, Struss SR, Bandy JT, Scholze RJ (1984) Appropriate technology for treating wastewater at remote sites on army installations: preliminary findings. Construction Engineering Research Laboratory, Champain (Technical report: N-160)

    Google Scholar 

  61. Stoner CH (1977) Goodbye to the flush toilet: water-saving alternatives to cesspools, septic tanks, and sewers. Rodale Press, Emmaus

    Google Scholar 

  62. Strande L, Mariska R, Damir B (2014) Faecal sludge management: systems approach for implementation and operation. IWA Publ, London

    Google Scholar 

  63. Templeton MR, Hammoud AS, Butler AP, Braun L, Foucher JA, Grossmann J, Boukari M, Faye S, Jourda JP (2015) Nitrate pollution of groundwater by pit latrines in developing countries. AIMS Environ Sci 2(2):302–313

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  64. Tønner-Klank L (2007) Microbiological assessments of compost toilets: in situ measurements and laboratory studies on the survival of fecal microbial indicators using sentinel chambers. Waste Manag (New York, NY) 27:1144–1154

    Article  Google Scholar 

  65. Vinneras B, Bjorklund A, Jonsson H (2003) Thermal composting of faecal matter as treatment and possible disinfection method-laboratory-scale and pilot-scale studies. Bioresour Technol 88:47–54

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  66. Weppen P (2001) Process calorimetry on composting of municipal organic wastes. Biomass Bioenergy 21:289–299

  67. Weissenbacher N, Mayr E, Niederberger T, Aschauer C, Lebersorger S (2008) Alpine infrastructure in Central Europe: integral evaluation of wastewater treatment systems at mountain refuges. Water Sci Technol 57(12):2017–2022

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  68. WHO/UNICEF (2014) Progress on drinking water and sanitation: 2014 update. Tech. rep. WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation, Luxembourg

    Google Scholar 

  69. Wichuk KM, McCartney D (2010) Compost stability and maturity evaluation—a Literature review. J Environ Eng Sci 37(11):5

    Google Scholar 

  70. Winblad U, Mayling SH, Calvert P (2004) Ecological sanitation. Stockholm Environment Institute, Stockholm

    Google Scholar 

  71. Withers PJA, May HP, Jarvie P, Jordan D, Doody RH, Foy M, Bechmann S, Cooksley R, Dils N, Deal N (2012) Nutrient emissions to water from septic tank systems in rural catchments: uncertainties and implications for policy. Environ Sci Pol 24:71–82

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  72. Wu L, Ma LQ, Martinez GA (2000) Comparison of methods for evaluating stability and maturity of biosolids compost. J Environ Qual 29(2):424–429

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  73. Young B (1986) A background report on Clivus Multrum composting toilets at Kosciusko National Park. National Parks and Wildlife Service, New South Wales

    Google Scholar 

  74. Zavala MAL, Funamizu N (2006) Design and operation of the bio-toilet system. Water Sci Technol 53:55–61

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  75. Zavala MAL, Funamizu N, Takakuwa T (2004) Temperature effect on aerobic biodegradation of faeces using sawdust as a matrix. Water Res 38(9):2406–2416

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

This research has been developed within the familial waterless toilet project undertaken by Toilettes Du Monde (TDM) with the support of French Agency of Environment and Energy Control (ADEME, grant no. 1106C0083).

The authors are grateful to the owners of the houses for their participation in data collecting and the member of the Ecological Sanitation Network (Réseau de l’Assainissement Écologiquewww.rae-intestinale.fr). Thanks to LTHE laboratory (Grenoble, France) who permitted to develop the scientific protocols and to interpret the leachate analysis.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Behzad Nasri.

Additional information

Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Nasri, B., Brun, F. & Fouché, O. Evaluation of the quality and quantity of compost and leachate from household waterless toilets in France. Environ Sci Pollut Res 26, 2062–2078 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-017-0604-z

Download citation

Keywords

  • Composting toilets
  • Human excreta treatment and management
  • Environmental discharge
  • Chemical flux