State of Green Business

Water-Saving 'No-Mix Toilets' Get Rave Reviews in Europe

Water-Saving 'No-Mix Toilets' Get Rave Reviews in Europe

It is looking more and more like the toilet of yore is on its last legs -- and that's a good thing.

There has been a steady rise of low-flow and other alternatives to the standard loo in the last few years, including stylish new dual-flush toilets, a line of toilets that flush with air instead of water, and a number of incentives and awards from governments for water efficient johns.

And a new study, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, finds that by and large, toilet users (aka just about everyone) are widely accepting of a new type of toilet -- the NoMix toilet, pictured to the left and at bottom.

This new porcelain throne does precisely what you'd think it does -- it separates liquid from solid waste, saving water by reducing the need to flush while simultaneously lowering the need for water treatment by keeping these kinds of waste separate from other, less polluted wastewater.

In the article, "High Acceptance of Urine Source Separation in Seven European Countries: A Review," authors Judit Lienert and Tove Larsen note that urine contains 80 percent of the nitrogen and 50 percent of the phosphorus entering wastewater plants. These two nutrients can be responsible for algae blooms and pharmaceutical residues that threaten water quality and marine life.

And in a survey of 2,700 residents of Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Sweden, and Denmark, NoMix toilets and the concepts behind them get wide approval.

A full 80 percent of respondents support the idea of separating the waste streams in the crapper (which, incidentally, was not actually invented by Thomas Crapper, but rather by John Harington).

The survey found that 75 to 85 percent of users of NoMix toilets "found that the design, hygiene, smell and seating comfort of the NoMix toilets equals that of conventional toilets."

And furthermore, 85 percent of users were supportive of the idea of using the nitrogen-rich stored urine as fertilizer (though it is unclear as to whether the respondents themselves would be spreading the fertilizer, or if it were instead intended for larger-scale use).

Much more information about the NoMix toilet is available online from Novaquatis, the Swiss firm that developed the latest NoMix toilet technology.