← Back to news feed

"As the planet warms, can we afford to treat poop as waste?"

Posted: April 10 2020

...titles this steamy fresh article from Sarah Wesseler at Yale Climate Connections, chronicling our nation's recent history of poop prejudice, the shocking exponential use of synthetic fertilizers since WWII, and paradigm and policy shifts that can be made to gain traction for the revaluation of animal manures and "night soil". Read for all the juicy details!!! This is a serious issue that has immense value for climate disaster mitigation. Some snippets:

"Throughout history, civilizations around the globe have viewed feces as a valuable resource. Going back to that model could be good for the climate."

Illustration "Neglected farm to silvopasture" by Ginny M.

Energy-intensive chemical fertilizer production generates its own emissions. Fields treated with synthetics miss out on the mitigation and adaptation benefits of manure application, ranging from enhanced carbon sequestration capacity to improved soil health.

Feces, and the infrastructure that manages it, can be used to create renewable energy in the form of biogas, heat recovery, or hydropower (through turbines in wastewater systems); this energy can, in turn, help power sewer systems. Excreta can even be turned into a solid fuel; in Kenya, one local sanitation utility makes poop-based briquettes for use instead of charcoal for cooking. To avoid emissions generated when sewage is land-filled or incinerated, and when fertilizers are produced, treated feces can be applied to agricultural fields or used as a soil amendment in other settings such as forests.

One organization working on these issues is the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA), a global network dedicated to incorporating a wide range of social and environmental considerations into the sanitation and waste management sectors."