Do the toilets smell?
No, because in actively vented systems, the fan creates a negative air presure flow, which draws air into the WCT (waterless composting system), and vents out through a pipe above the building. This active venting, actually vents out the entire toilet/bathroom area, and makes the systems smell less than a conventional flushing toilet, as the water in a fushing toilet pan actually blocks this process.
Can I still clean my toilet normally?
Yes, you can wipe your toilet down with disinfectant at the seating area, however, pouring any chlorines or chemical agents into the chute will kill your friendly microbes doing all the hard work for you in the tank. Use green friendly products always when cleaning composting toilets. You can pour water into both units, the Clivus won’t mind at all, the EcoLet you may have to adjust the thermostat slightly, to balance the extra liquid.
Do I need special toilet paper?
Regular loo paper will compost as good as any, the bleach in the paper doesn’t have enough concentration to hurt the microbes. We do suggest looking at www.greencane.co.nz, as their paper is made from recycled sugar cane, which is otherwise burnt.
Can I see down the toilet like some long drops?
You cannot see down the Clivus, because the inside of the pedestal is coated black, and combined with the chute, it is too dark to see anything. The EcoLet has automatically opening flaps which part when you sit on the seat, so you don’t see into the toilet.
Will the system be acceptable to the Local Authority for building approval?
All our Composting systems bar the Bambooloo & CM2 are fully certified against the Aust/NZ Standards (AS/NZS 1546.2:2008) for Waterless Toilets, therefore there is no problem with how the unit works as far as legalities are concerned. Regional councils are the regulating bodies for on-site waste treatment, and will not permit any alternative treatment system if you are already, or can be, connected to their centralised sewer system (urban areas) unless under special circumstance, which will then be on a one-off submissions basis.
Thus, any area where septic is acceptable, so too can a waterless composting toilet be applied. If you are building or renovating, and you are required to submit documents to the council for permission, which would include your waste treatment plans, we are happy to supply you with anything the council may need.
Note; that the CM2 system with the Chamber Screen option meets the technical requirements for NZ regulation.
Are they easy to install and maintain?
90% of our customers DIY install the Clivus Multrum systems, there is little installation requirements in an ideal scenario (i.e., space under floor is there already, or is being built especially).Refer to the brochure for more details of installation pre-requisites. Clivus units need minimal maintenance – every 12-18 months the finished compost from the bottom chamber is removed, and every 4- 6 months, the pile will need to be raked (rake provided) to flatten the compost. The EcoLet are simply plugged into 240v and a pipe hole is cut in the wall or ceiling where the vent is inserted to the outside. The maintenance will vary heavily on usage – 6-8 weeks may see you emptying the humus tray which needs to be finished in a compost bin onsite.
Is there lots of compost after 12 months?
No, compost is constantly shrinking from the middle, by up to 90%, therefore, the amount of compost in the finishing chamber is only a fraction of the humanure and bulking material that has been put in there. It is usually around 3-6 bucket loads.
Can I get a system that is sized and suited to my requirements?
The brochures outline the capacity and estimated usage for each size and model of both systems. If you need help in scaling usage, just contact us, and we are happy to calculate this for you.
Aren’t composting toilets the same as long drops?
No, they are not. A long drop is an anaerobically decomposition method, which is extremely wet and slow, and as the microbes involved in this process produce methane, ethane and sulphur gases, the smell is less than unpleasant. Because of this slow decomposition, the long drop has a pollution field of approx. 15 metres radius from the initial hole in the ground, and has the potential of seeping into underground waterways.
A composting toilet is aerobically decomposing, meaning it is quite dry, and the microbes release gases such as oxygen and carbon-dioxide, the smell is far less putrid, and the polluting effects of these gases is significantly smaller. They also yield a dividend – rich, soily compost, ready to go on the garden.
Is the end compost safe to handle?
Absolutely, in the case of the Clivus systems – by the time there is compost ready to be collected, the matter has been effectively decomposed and aged appropriately for any pharmaceuticals or human viruses to have been absorbed and eaten up in the process. It is sheer microbial competition which destroys any human pathogens and microbes in composting humanure. Viruses cannot exist outside of a human body for more than 48hours anyway. The composting process actually condenses colloidal heavy metals (ie from pharmaceutical drugs), meaning that when the soil is spread on the ground, any heavy metal remaining are not only well below toxic levels, but are in a bound state, too heavy for a plant to reabsorb in their tiny feeding roots.
Once the humanure compost is in the ground, worms will continue to break it down anyway, further transforming the compost into soil. In the case of the EcoLet, the humus is safe, certainly as far as human pathogens are concerned, and what comes out after 6-8 weeks in the humus tray looks and smells like compost, but it hasn’t been aged, so it needs to be placed into a compost bin and finished for at least another 6months to a year.
Can I use worms and /or food scraps?
We don’t actively recommend worms, because they are a higher life form and need more care. The Clivus process is usually too dry for them, and if you are away a lot, the worms will suffer for the lack of feeding. However, if you are into worms, you can simply add more water, and keep the compost wetter for them, and ensure feeding, and they are certainly a valid addition, if you know how to keep them.
Food scraps again, we don’t actively recommend it, mainly because they can attract flying insects like fruit flies and house flies. However, people have had success if they can keep a good monitor on the tank, and can remove flies and insects by using pyrethrum based insect repellents (not chemical ones). It will certainly require more vigilance and maintenance.
What materials are recommended for use as bulking agents?
We generally encourage the use of UNTREATED wood shavings or peat moss, or a mixture. It can be soft or hard wood, softwood bark, newsprint shredding, wheat-straw, rice hulls, or even straw, leaves or shredded shrub trimmings. We do not recommend sawdust, as it clumps together too much and can plug the drain hole in the bottom, and food scraps, hay and grass clippings can attract insects and other potential unwanted pests. The EcoLet is strictly run on a 50/50 ratio of untreated wood-shavings and peat moss.
How does a compost toilet affect what system I use for grey-water?
We do not promote any particular grey-water system, as there are many well established companies that can help you out. By virtue of removing the human ‘waste’ from you grey water, you have opened up other opportunities to recycle your grey water anyway. Talk to your local regional council about their recommendation, or local grey-water consultants, and research on the web. In Joseph C. Jenkins’ book, The Humanure Handbook, he recommends some excellent, natural methods.
What if I have no power, or off-grid?
The Clivus system runs virtually on no power (running only a 12v fan), and can be easily run off a small solar panel, or with simply a “whirly-bird” vent system. The EcoLet are unsuitable for off grid situations, as they need 240v to run. There is the non-electric version to consider, however that runs quite different to the other models.
Will female sanitary items compost?
No, do not put any of these items down any composting toilet. They do not break down and pose a sanitary problem when handling your compost. If you interested in alternative sanitary devices, I can highly recommend the www.mooncup.co.uk. They are available in NZ.
What is the difference between a Clivus Multrum and an EcoLet?
The Clivus Multrum is a continuous composting chamber, as new material is added to the top of the pile, finished compost is removed from the bottom of the pile when appropriate. The Clivus requires virtually no power and has a much greater capacity, with less maintenance. The EcoLet is a batch composter – it uses a small chamber which needs emptying, and requires a restart of the process after each emptying.
It has a smaller capacity and must be connected to a 240v (not off grid) power system to run, and the humus needs to be finished in a compost bin on site, dug under the ground, or put a worm farm to finish.
Can an EcoLet be used for motorhomes?
No as the EcoLet need 240v power to operate, this will generally exclude most motorhomes. These toilets were not designed with this use in mind, and must be permanently sited for operational efficiency.
Do I need to add special bacteria?
No, all bacteria needed to begin the process of decomposition, are already there, granted that the right conditions are present (ie a good carbon/nitrogen balance – or in this context, humanure and wood shavings)The bacteria exist in the bulking material, and within our own digestive tract. If you encounter a problem, where someone has accidentally killed the microbes in your unit, we can provide a “starting bacteria” mix to boost the compost pile back into action.
If you have further questions, comments or queries, please contact us.