′The dry toilet industry is definitely growing′ | Global Ideas | DW | 20.03.2012
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Global Ideas

'The dry toilet industry is definitely growing'

The Swedish company "Separaett" is one of the world’s leading producers of waterless toilets. DW spoke with Mikael Billsund, the company’s owner and CEO.

A Chinese worker cleans up a toilet at the hotel where the 2004 World Toilet Summit is being held in Beijing, China,

Not everyone has access to modern toilets

DW: Mr. Billsund, what drove your company to branch out from the regular flush toilets into making dry toilets?

Mikael Billsund: In the early 1990s, we recognized a need for a modern, eco-friendly sanitation solution in places without sewage systems or waste treatment plants. So we developed the so-called waterless toilets, where solid and fluid waste are disposed of separately. Most of our toilets are installed in vacation homes in the countryside. There you have the advantage that the urine can be used there directly as fertilizer and the solid waste can be composted. When you compare it to the costs of hooking up to a public sewage system, the toilets we produce are much cheaper than flush toilets.

Do people have reservations about the concept of toilets that don’t use water?

The thing most people think is that waterless toilets will stink. But that’s a completely unjustified fear because our toilets are outfitted with an exhaust system that minimizes odors. So our toilets can be built into any modern bathroom. Even during the composting process, there are no unpleasant odors. It takes place in closed basins. Admittedly, waterless toilets do involve a little more work because the waste has to be emptied from time to time.

Are there a lot of companies that produce waterless toilets?

There are several local providers that produce energy-saving toilets, but not on a large scale. And most don’t produce fully waterless toilets. There are several varieties on the market: toilets that use very little water, composting toilets where the composting process takes place directly in a basin in the house, or there are so-called fire toilets where the waste is burned off.

Will waterless toilets remain a niche market?

Waterless toilets are growing in popularity, especially because people are more environmentally-conscious and want to find green solutions. Right now there is a lot moving on the market. We export nearly half of our toilets abroad, mostly to Europe, Canada, Russia or the US. The industry is definitely growing. Since the end of the 1990s, we’ve become so successful with our waterless models that we decided to take over marketing and sales ourselves instead of going through a distributor.

Author: Eva Mahnke/ss
Editor: Sonia Phalnikar