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The Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Composting Toilets

Composting toilets have the potential in addressing sanitary and environmental problems in unsewered rural and suburban areas. These type of septic systems utilise microorganisms to decompose household waste with lawn clippings, wood shavings and other organic matter into humus. Composting toilets are installed with a ventilation unit to release gases and allow air into the chambers. Two kinds of composting systems are becoming more popular in Australia which include the waterless system and the wet composting system.

Waterless Composting System

Also known as dry composting toilets, these systems are the most water efficient among other types of septic systems. Urine and faeces are collected in a sealed chamber beneath the toilet pedestal. Microorganisms, usually bacteria, break down household waste and extra organic matter releasing carbon dioxide and water vapour. They are recommended for families with a restricted water supply.

Advantages

● Minimal water consumption

● Sludge removal is not necessary

● Decreased volume of solids

● Inexpensive to operate

● Produces humus for non­edible plants

● Low environmental impact

● Suited for remote areas

Disadvantages

● Requires a separate greywater system

● Can produce unpleasant odors

● Removal of compost every year is required

● Compost chambers may be clogged if humus is not removed regularly

● Additional carbon sources are needed

● Effluent may be released onto your property through the evapotranspiration absorption beds and absorption trenches

Wet Composting System

Wet systems can be used in conjunction with flushing toilets in treating all the wastewater from the house which eliminates the need for separate greywater management. These systems work like biological filter systems allowing bacteria to work in breaking down the solids.

Advantages

● A separate greywater tank is not needed

● Able to receive various types of household wastes

● Allowing you opt for flush or no flush toilets

● Effluent is directed to sub­soil drains for garden watering

● Suited for remote areas

Disadvantages

● Removal of compost every year is required

● Compost chambers may be clogged if humus is not removed regularly

● Can produce unpleasant odors

● Effluent may be released onto your property through the evapotranspiration absorption beds and absorption trenches

As the advantages outweigh the disadvantages of using composting toilets, these type of septic systems are a good alternative to conventional systems, especially if you are living in sub­urban areas. In fact, government councils in New South Wales recommend homeowners to install waterless toilets to conserve water.

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