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Blog – From Toilet to Tree

November 19, 2021

You may be wondering the connection between World Toilet Day and your local park. Well, if you live in Finland the connection may be closer than you think.

At our recycling site in Finland our research and development team are working hard to try and incorporate organic waste in growing media to help close the loop in the landscaping world. This means they collect old substrates from growers as well as green waste from local municipalities to create new composts. What many don’t know is that this not the only organic that they use, which brings us to the humble toilet, present in every home and office. The waste that humans produce makes excellent compost.

How do we turn this waste into nutritional compost? The procedure is called the Hygienic Process. Well to begin with, the human leftovers are pre-processed into pure sludge at a wastewater treatment plant and once this first phase of composting is done transported to Kekkilä’s Composting plant. That sludge is then sat in a tunnel for a couple of weeks while they regulate the temperature, air additives and humidity to allow for some natural cleaning and for the composting to begin. Once this first phase of composting is done, then transported outside where, thanks to those naturally active ingredients, microbes and heat, it will naturally break-down and clean itself, furthering along the composting procedure. At this point it begins to look very indistinguishable from other materials we use for growing media. Testing is incredibly important; researchers will periodically check for any human pathogenes.

Once the Hygienic Process is completed, it is all about measuring to make sure the growing media is optimal. The researchers will measure nitrogen levels, phosphorous levels, and amount of CO2. Lower amounts of carbon dioxide indicate that the mass has stabilized and safe for use, and the substrate is ready to go! At the soil station compost is mixed with other ingredients, for example sand. Then final stage is to deliver the ready soil to our customers to be used in parks, gardens and construction sites, where it can help our urban trees, bushes, and plants thrive. As any other compost, this raw material also acts as a valuable fertilizer and soil improver in growing media.

World Toilet Day celebrates toilets and raises awareness of the 4.2 billion people living without access to safely managed sanitation. For us nations who do have toilets, the least we can do is appreciate them and utilise them.

Happy International Toilet Day!