Composting Toilets vs Regular Toilet – what you need to know

If you’re in the market for a new loo, chances are you’re thinking about how you can reduce your water consumption through a water saving toilet. You may even be thinking about moving to a composting toilet but aren’t sure if it’s worth your while.

To help you make an informed decision, we’ve decided to put our composting toilet range and ‘normal’ flush toilets to the test and put them side by side so you can see the differences.

Composting Toilets vs Regular Toilet – The Price

The Hidden Costs
With western style flush toilets, a hidden cost many don’t think about is either a septic tank or if connected to sewer your rates will have a component for sewerage reticulation and treatment.

It’s worth noting that septic tanks can cost more that composting toilets to install.

The Environmental Cost
This is where composting toilets really come into their own. Flush toilets transport your waste through a series of underground pipes into a treatment station where chemicals are used to treat the water which is then released back into the environment.

In Queensland, operators are licensed under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (PDF)* to discharge treated wastewater at an acceptable environmental standard into waterways. Yes these discharges are monitored, regulated and enforced, but wouldn’t it be better for everyone if this process didn’t need to happen at all?

With a composting toilet you eliminate this process completely, saving precious drinking water and reducing your use of natural resources (directly by not using water and indirectly by not sending water to a treatment plant that uses natural resources to power the plant and treat water).

The ongoing cost
This will depend on how often your toilet is used and how large your family is. A normal flush toilet will use approx 9 litres for a full flush and 4.5 litres for a half flush. If you have a family of four that uses the toilet approx 4 times a day for each member (conservative estimate) and use only the half flush feature that’s around 26,000 litres (or 26 kilolitres) of perfectly good drinking water a year being used just to flush the toilet.

With town water going for around $1 a kilolitre at the time of writing, this may seem like pennies in the grand scheme of things however, water being the precious commodity it is, pricing will more than likely go up over time. If you’re not connected to town water and need to rely on tanks, bores or greywater, conserving water is a must and you can save almost a swimming pools worth of water each year just by switching to a composting toilet.

The Cistern cost
First of all, a composting toilet is always going to cost more up front (unless you want to hand over a cool 5 million for this solid gold flush toilet!) but it’s the savings in ongoing water costs that will help you save money and water (plus you get a usable product at the end of a composting cycle).

Composting toilet price
Between $850 and $5,000 approx

Flush toilet price
Between $100 and $3,500 approx

Composting Toilets vs Regular Toilet – Installation

Installing your own composting toilet is a pretty easy process, particularly if you’re going down the road of installing a self contained system. Split systems require a little more work to install as there’s two sections.

Take a look at the video below to see how easy it is to install a composting toilet like the CM2 Complete System

Depending on your level of skill installing a flush toilet or composting toilet may be easy peasy or a challenge. For comparison, here’s a link to a video on how to install a flush toilet.

Composting Toilets vs Regular Toilet – Usage

Using a composting toilet is really no different to a regular flush toilet other than the fact you don’t flush. There are things you can put into a composting toilet that you wouldn’t for a flush toilet like sawdust, vegetable scraps, organic matter, etc and likewise we don’t advise putting a dead goldfish or small pet in your composting toilet so it goes both ways!

Other than chucking in a cup of fine grade peat moss and untreated wood shavings every now and then the process of using a composting toilet is virtually the same (although you may have to educate visitors to your home about what can and can’t be put in the loo)

Composting Toilets vs Regular Toilet – Maintenance

Ok, we’re going to admit defeat here and say that yes, composting toilets do require more maintenance than a conventional flush toilet however, that small amount of time you spend pulling out drums, turning handles or curing compost piles each month gives you a usable product at the end of the day AND you save a bucketload of water every year.

The decision to purchase a composting toilet isn’t just about facts and figures or ease of use comparisons, it’s more a lifestyle choice and making the decision to reduce your footprint on this wonderful planet, our only planet.

Composting Toilets vs Regular Toilet – Cleaning

Cleaning your composting toilet is pretty much the same as cleaning a conventional toilet, the only difference being you will want to avoid anything that’s designed to ‘kill germs’ as this will kill the good and helpful bacteria in your composting pile.

Note: if you want to find out more about the microbes, bacteria and fungi that are in your composting pile check out our article What actually happens when you poop in a composting toilet?

The best thing to clean your composting toilet with is our Nature Flush Enzymes – these are a natural product that will clean your toilet beautifully without hurting the compost pile.

Now that you have all the facts about the differences between a composting toilet and a normal flush toilet we hope you will be able to make a more informed decision. Yes composting toilets are a little more work and cost a little more up front, but we believe that it’s not as simple as purchasing a toilet. It’s about buying into a lifestyle that reduces your effect on the environment and being part of the movement towards self sufficiency and sustainability.

If there’s something we’ve missed in this article or there are comments you would like to add, please feel free to comment below or email us at info@ecoflo.com.au

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