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Potty talk with Peter Andersson, President of BioLet USA - Huddler Interview

post #1 of 4
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When you think of composting toilets, you might think of outhouses or unpleasant odors...  BioLet aims to change all that.  BioLet offers a line of composting toilets from non-electric models to deluxe models...that use no water. Huddlers asked Peter Andersson, President of BioLet USA, everything from how the toilets work to how to keep them from smelling like porta-potties.

 

A big thanks goes out to Marshal-Green for suggesting this interview!


Q: How do your waterless toilets work? (by dana1981)

A: BioLet toilets are a self contained 2 chamber composting system. In other words, all the composting is handled within the toilet. We utilize aerobic bacteria that are already present in waste and feed them using our patented air circulation system. As many of you know, you have to have a good balance of carbon and nitrogen in order for compost to work well. Our toilets use a special composting mix that is added after each fecal use and automatically mixed with the toilet’s contents by our automated mixing system. This combination of natural bacteria and air flow ensures everything composts as nature would handle it normally only without any odors. All of this happens in the upper chamber of the toilet; the lower chamber contains compost.



Q: What is the most mistaken idea people have concerning your products? (by Marshal-Green)


A:  Most people think they are sitting only inches from excrement; what we like to call the ‘yuck’ factor. This, actually, is very mistaken. Most of the contents of a BioLet toilet is mulch; composting reduces waste volume by 90% so you are not really sitting on top a pile of, well, you know.   Many people are also afraid of using toilet tissue with composting toilets. Toilet tissue does take a bit longer to compost, but it still composts.



Q: What type of maintenance is required for a composting toilet? (by teej)

A:  Maintenance of a properly installed composting toilet is actually pretty minimal. All a BioLet toilet requires is the addition of a half cup of composting mix after each fecal use and periodic emptying of the lower composting tray. This tray only contains safely composted humus so you never get in contact with unprocessed waste. This tray only needs emptied once or twice a year, depending on how many people are using the toilet.



Q: Superficial question...how do you prevent a waterless toilet from, errr, smelling?  (by lola)


A:  It’s not a superficial question at all. No one likes their bathroom smelling like a sewer. BioLet toilets do not have odors because of its air circulation process. In properly installed systems, there is a negative air pressure that creates a vacuum that pumps odors up through a ‘chimney’ and out into the open air. You will not smell any odors from the outside either as long as the chimney is installed properly.



Q: Different experts have argued whether or not "humanure" should be used with foods that are handled/eaten directly (like lettuce, etc.) vs. only as mulch for fruit trees, or non-edible plants. What guidance do you give your customers in this regard? (by deej)

A:  We tell our customers not to use the final compost on food bearing plants of any type. While, most pathogens are killed in the composting process, many chemicals such as prescription medicines cannot be processed by composting. These chemicals can then enter the plants and continue in the food chain. Many health departments also prohibit the use of “humanure” on food bearing plants. It’s best to be safe and only use human compost for landscaping projects.



Q: On average how much money can a person save by buying a composting toilet instead of a septic system? (by Marshal-Green)


A:  On average, a person can save anywhere between $4,000 and $10,000 by buying a composting toilet instead of a septic system. Also you save on yearly maintenance and pumping.



Q: What kind of adoption rate are you looking at? (by lola)

A: For many years, we mostly had sales from vacation home owners and green oriented people. Now, we are seeing less of our niche and more mainstream Americans buying our products. Many major retailers such as Home Depot, ACE, and Ferguson are showcasing BioLet toilets as well. Honestly, we did not expect to have such an influx of interest and are running to keep up with demand.


 

Q: Do you see this as the "green" future of toilets?  What other technology do you foreshadow? (by lola)


A:  We are starting to face water shortages in many parts of the world. It is a necessity that we move away from water based waste management as drinking water becomes scarce. Composting toilets will be key to addressing water shortages and the problem of soil erosion. I believe we will eventually see municipal composting systems. These systems will be vacuum ‘flush’ toilets that would move waste into large municipal composting chambers. The technology will require sorting of non-compostable material, heat sterilization, and a method to remove pharmaceuticals. However, the final compost could eventually be safe enough to use on farms or other areas of soil erosion. More importantly, if designed well, a municipal composting system or program would allow us to become more sustainable as a culture. I believe it would be possible to find a way to retrofit our current water based system to work this way. The main problem would be the cost to households unless we can develop a way to modify current water based toilets.


 

Q: Does BioLet have plans to expand into any other products?  Are there any other waterless products on the market that you find compelling? (by teej)

 

A:  We only manufacture household toilet systems as this time, but we are not ruling out expanding into commercial sized systems in the future. BioLets are designed for homes and cabins, but we have had customers install them on boats and RVs. Airhead mobile toilets look to be an interesting solution for people who want to compost on their boats or RVs. Waterless urinals are also an option I would like to see installed more.

 


Edited by stins - Wed, 03 Dec 2008 00:52:18 GMT
post #2 of 4

I'm always impressed and thankful for the well-crafted responses we get in these interviews. Thank you so much for the time Peter - you represent your movement incredibly well!

 



Edited by deej - Wed, 03 Dec 2008 03:00:13 GMT
post #3 of 4

Thank you for your answers, Peter. I am very impressed with your products and am trying to get people to be more open minded to them and other green alternatives.

post #4 of 4

In my experience, Biolet should not be allowed to manufacture or distribute anything in the United States. I shudder at the thought of any more well-intended suckers being exposed to their inferior products and lackadaisical tech support.

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