Rota Loo Composting Toilet Systems
With clean water becoming more of a premium every year- and becoming increasingly more expensive- composting toilets are a great way of saving huge amounts of water that would otherwise be flushed down the toilet. They also produce mineral rich compost which can then be used to fertilise your garden. They really do turn what is usually thought of as an unpleasant waste product into a rich, earthy smelling resource. And today's modern composting systems aren't just for the holiday shack or outback homestead... almost any home can install one and benefit from the savings.
Earthwise Harmony speaks with Andrew Holten of Environment Equipment about their composting toilet system- Rota Loo.
Tell us about the various Rota Loo composting toilet models you have and explain how they work and what specific advantages each has.
The three models of Rota Loo toilets cover the capacity requirements from small households and weekender's through to public toilet facilities. All of the Rota Loo range have individual bins on the internal carousel which allows the waste to fully compost away from fresh input. The bins are easily removed when the time eventually comes to empty that particular batch of composted humus material. The difference in the units is the size & capacity of the bins and in the case of the Maxi 2000 Rota Loo the number of large bins inside the base unit.
What advantages does the Rota Loo system have over some of the other types of composting toilet systems?
The Rota Loo is a batch composting toilet. These reasonably bins full of waste allow for much better composting and easier handling when the time comes around to remove the bin.
The passage of the liquid to the separated base section under the carousel improves the level of evaporation from the unit and helps improve the end quality of the compost.
The base units have a low profile under the floor meaning that the toilet room floor is not especially high off the ground.
What kind of set-up would you recommend for different situations?
A full time occupation would be best suited for a Rota Loo 950 which has 6 x 87 litre bins
A holiday house or irregular use premise could get away with the RL650 which has 6 x 39 litre bins
The Rota Loo 950 is 950mm in height whilst the Rota Loo 650 is 650mm in height.
For use in cold climates or where the liquid input is high a separating pedestal could be considered.
How much water can a family save in a year using a composting toilet system?
A family of 5 can save tens of thousands of litres of potable water by installing a waterless composting toilet. Gone is that dreaded sound of valuable drinking water being flushed around the ‘S’ bend.
What other environmental benefits come from a composting toilet? (eg the resulting compost)
The amount of mineral rich composted waste is not great, but it is a valuable by-product never-the –less. It really is the saving of precious water and also the minimal amount of power required to transform human waste into a suitable and safe garden product.
What is involved in the upkeep of a composting toilet? What does the user need to do?
The casual user or junior householder really doesn’t need to do anything except put the lid down after visiting the toilet. The maintenance officer ( probably Dad or Mum) needs to add some suitable dried material every other day just to layer the waste pile and obviously empty the fully composted waste bin when it eventually comes around on the carousel.
A bit of maintenance every six months on the fan and the vent turbine is the only vaguely mechanical maintenance required. All very minimal really.
Is there any extra odour or unhygienic aspects to having a composting toilet? How is this kept to a minimum and do people need to take extra measures to combat this?
The small vent pipe fan actually draws an amount of air down the pedestal meaning that a toilet room above a composting toilet will actually have less offensive odour than a water based system where odours must be removed by roof mounted fans or small windows.
Is the resulting compost safe to use anywhere in the garden, such as on a veggie garden?
Composted human waste is still incredibly rich in minerals but should not be applied to a veggie garden without precaution. There is a safety aspect which must be respected when food is involved. A plant that has a root system and has product above ground is a good recipient for well composted waste.
How much do the various set-ups cost?
A household could expect to pay between $4500 and $5000 inc GST for a suitable system. A public sized system excluding one of our specifically designed buildings is approximately $11,000 inc GST.
These prices include pedestals, fans, vents and all the items required.
Are replacement parts readily available?
Whilst the requirement for spare parts is minimal due to the initial quality of the items supplied, the manufacturer holds a stock of fans, wind turbines and bin filters for rapid despatch when ordered.
What considerations do people need to look at before deciding to install one of these systems and what are some of the pitfalls they should be aware of to avoid?
Being a waterless system it is just gravity that takes the waste directly into the Rota Loo under the floor so there needs to be suitable space under the toilet room.
It is well worth planning how to use the available sunlight to generate cheap warmed air for the small fan to draw through the system . This will speed up the composting and evaporation processes.
Can your systems be done as do-it-yourself projects, or do they need professional installation?
The Rota Loo domestic sized units are very much a DIY project for those with reasonable handyman skills. A well planned installation will overcome any surprises in regard to vent pipes , waste chutes and the air inlet .
What regulations surrounding composting toilet systems do people need to be aware of and where can they go to find out more?
The Local Council offices have some information about the suitability of these units to the area, but it is usually the State Government approval that spells out the regulations on composting toilets within that State.
Do you have any other products which have environmental benefits?
Environment Equipment also offer a gravity all waste Worm farm. The unit known as the OnZite Gravity Wormfarm accepts all the household waste water including the flush toilets and kitchen sink. The 3200litre tank is buried down-slope from the house and drain via gravity to trenches…no power, no pumps.
Tell us a bit about your company and its environmental interests and concerns.
Environment Equipment was founded in 1974 when we imported Australia's first commercial composting toilets from Sweden. Today we specialise in larger under floor models and also an all waste-water system. We believe in low maintenance systems that do not break the bank to operate and they allow people to live off the grid and in rural Australia.
Is there anything else you would like to tell us?
The Rota Loo base unit, bins and carousel are manufactured from 95% recycled rotomoulding off-cuts. The trimmings from all the other roto-moulded products are reground and used for the Rota Loo which raises the environmental standard we are endeavouring to achieve and also keeps this off-cut plastic out of the waste stream.
Where can people purchase your products?
See www.rotaloo.com for a list of our resellers.
And also www.onzite.com.au for our Gravity Worm Farm information.