Compost Toilet Trial

27 August 2012

Ten Wellington households will trial a new compost toilet system to see if it will provide a better alternative to chemical toilets or portaloos in an emergency.

A home-made sign in Christchurch asks for help in the form of a portable toilet

A home-made sign in Christchurch asks for help in the form of a portable toilet

One of the biggest problems for Christchurch following the February 2011 earthquake was the damage to the city's sewerage system.

People used portaloos and chemical toilets, but there were significant problems with these, including the time it took to source enough toilets, waiting times for portaloos and the difficulty older people had emptying heavy chemical toilets. Compost toilets can be easily constructed at home and placed in your bathroom or outside your home, so there is no waiting to use a toilet.

They provide an environmentally friendly alternative to other types of toilets. Some families in Christchurch who still don't have working flush toilets have started using compost toilets. Compost toilets are made from particle board - two buckets stand inside the box with toilet seats on top.

One toilet is used for urine and the other for waste. After using the waste toilet, wood shavings or chips or leaves are placed on top. The toilet is then emptied into a wheelie bin. The waste is layered with sticks, grass and soil to help absorb the odour. The wheelie bin is collected every few weeks for composting. The urine bucket is emptied onto a corner of the garden each day where it acts as fertiliser.

The Wellington trial is being carried out by the Wellington Region Emergency Management Office (WREMO) and local councils. If it goes well, compost toilets may be used in future emergencies. If you are interested in being part of the trial visit:

Wellington Region Emergency Management Office - Facebook website