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Ecological sanitation: relative efficiency of different composting materials and recovery of nutrients for eco-san toilets

Author Affiliations

  • 1Department of Environmental Management, Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirappalli – 620 0234 Tamil Nadu, India
  • 2Department of Environmental Science, PSG College of Arts and Science, Coimbatore–641 014, Tamil Nadu, India
  • 3Department of Environmental Management, Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirappalli – 620 0234 Tamil Nadu, India

Int. Res. J. Environment Sci., Volume 6, Issue (2), Pages 30-43, February,22 (2017)


Human waste disposal practices are fivefold: open air defecation, dry latrines, eco-san toilet, pit latrines and septic tank toilet. Of which ecological sanitation is an advanced and sustainable method of managing human excreta, by means of recovering nutrients in both urine and faeces. Ecological sanitation envisages a scientific mechanism for a value addition to human excreta by attaching economic value to it. Predominately wood ash was used as composting material, however locally available various different composting materials also have the potential to compost human waste. There are differences among the materials in time taken to composting and nutrient recovery efficiency. Materials engaged for composting included wood ash, dry earth soil, saw husk and rice husk for the experiments conducted in the study. The experimental procedure was to spread the above composting material on faecal matter and provide anaerobic condition for six to ten months for composting. The present paper deals with the material which performs better than the others in nutrient recovery and reducing the time period of composting. In this regard the use of dry earth soil was found more efficient in producing standard physiochemical and biological parameters of the organic manure. From the results it has been confirmed that the E.coli gradually decreased to nil in just span of six months. Interestingly, the nutrient values of the total nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium (NPK) showed a lower level in the beginning state of composting but eventually at the final stage of composting after one year it had increased when using the wood ash, saw husk and rice husk. Presence of heavy metals were tested after the 10th month for all the above composting materials and the result for Cu, Cr, Zn, Pb, Ni, and Cd were observed to be within the permissible limit of Indian compost standard and Cd, As, and Hg was recorded Below Detectable Limit (BDL).


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