Toilets at any event with large numbers of people are an operational challenge.
Apart from operational logistics of having the right number of toilets and urinals in the right places, along with keeping up with cleaning and emptying, we also have sustainability considerations:
- water use
- chemical use
- transport of kit and sewage
- treatment of sewage
- emissions both methane & CO2
The key to reducing the environmental impact of toilets and sewage at your event are to
- use waterless urinals
- use low flushing toilets
- use water free toilets (compost loos)
- use biological treatments rather than chemical products
These may not always be possible but for events held on rural land, it is, based on health, environmental and other regulatory agency approval:
- compost your sewage waste on-site to include minimise transport impact of the waste
- use the resulting compost to fertilise the land your event is held on
There are a myriad of portable toilet options including:
- Cabin toilets
- Long Drops
- Compost Toilets
Flushing toilets with unnecessarily large volumes of water, and water that is of drinking quality, is the utmost in wastefulness of a precious resource. Solutions at home such as bricks in the cistern or pee-ing in the garden aren’t really practical for a large scale event. The only solution to reducing the volume of water used at your event is to ensure you use;
- Waterless urinals
- Low volume flushing toilets
- Waterless toilets (composters)
Sewage treatment plants use natural biological methods to treat sewage. Large amounts of disinfectant or chemicals in the effluent you send their way prevents the ability of these systems to work. So if your event produces large amounts of sewage waste which will be taken to a local and relatively small treatment plant, care should be taken to treat your toilets with appropriate products.
- Check with the local sewage treatment plant if there is any effect your ‘deposit’ will have on their operations.
Transport of Toilets & Sewage
Trucking thousands, sometimes millions of litres of liquid waste from your event to the nearest treatment plant or sewer line access point will add significantly to you overall transport emissions. Apart from the waste, of course the actual portable toilets must be moved to the event further adding to the emissions impact.
To reduce the transport impact of toilets and sewage, use low or no-flush toilets, and choose a portable toilet that fit the largest number of cubicles per lorry in transporting them to your show.
The treatment of sewage waste also has its own recognised emissions factors. This takes into account both the methane which is naturally emitted along with energy needed to run the processing plants.
Compost toilets are environmentally friendly alternatives to water or chemical intensive toilets. Essentially a dry toilet, they are chemical free, odour free and if operated at their best, reduce transportable waste by 80% to 90%.
There are a several options in the marketplace currently, and it is likely more toilet operators or enterprising businesses will develop their own solutions. Events which own their own land should seriously consider permanent installation of these units.