Green Scene: Ecozoic’s Biofiltration Toilets Turn Waste Into A Resource
– Ecozoic Resources
As the general public and concert industry turn more of an eye toward sustainability, one private but universal space isn’t being talked about nearly enough, according to Ecozoic Resources co-founder and COO Kelly Erhart.
“Every single festivalgoer is going to go to the bathroom. That is your highest percentage – not everybody is going to go to the art gallery, but everybody is going to go to the bathroom,” Erhart says. “If we can take that as an opportunity to educate people, I think we’re doing the right thing.”
Ecozoic’s “regenerative Biofiltration toilet solution” turns human waste from large-scale events into a resource, and has been at Burning Man the last two years along with music festivals including the new 4xFAR in California’s Coachella Valley that took place Jan. 18-19, and Oregon events such as Global Eclipse Festival, Beloved Festival, Spirit Weavers, and others.
“We want to provide a sustainable experience for events where they’re actually going through a closed-loop process,” Erhart says, adding that the waste is treated, separated and dehydrated inside the tanks for future use. “At the end of the event, we have this amazing liquid fertilizer that is totally clean and can be used to rebuild soil house. A lot of times we’ll partner with farmers in the local area and get a permit to land apply on their land. We’ve seen some amazing results from that.”
Ecozoic’s toilets boast practical upgrades to the usual Port-a-Potty, such as requiring no pumping or trucking waste during the entirety of events and holding 10 times the volume of typical portable toilets.
There are cosmetic comforts as well, such as providing a lighted space with a fan inside, no odor, and giving event-goers a first-hand sustainability lesson.
“Generally people act differently in these toilets, which is kind of a funny thing to say,” Erhart says. “There’s a level of respect that’s different. There’s something psychological about walking up stairs and there’s lights inside. It just feels very different. We’ve had some amazing feedback.”
As for cost, Erhart says it depends on venue and site – with its most competitive pricing being in rural sites farther away from waste treatment centers, such as Burning Man, which Ecozoic will be at again this year.
“We’re in a redesign process of our units right now actually,” she says. “Our units are pretty sturdy, heavy steel cabins and we’re trying to cut down on the shipping weight and the build and install time so we can be more competitive at cost, but it really depends on the venue. “
However, the cost is more than just financial, which Erhart says should be considered, especially as consumers and brands have an ever-growing Earth-first focus.
– Ecozoic Resources
– Ecozoic Resources
“It might be a little bit more to pay for a service like this, but it’s also more to buy an electric car or solar panels,” Erhart adds. “And, at some point you’re actually subsidizing companies like Haliburton that are subsidiaries or owners of a lot of the port-a-potty companies, and you’re paying for the environmental costs in order to get a cheaper product.
“Another part of our mission is trying to spread awareness around the multi-layered benefits and how we can look at the economics in a different way. Maybe this is part of your sustainability or art budget. How can we be looking at this in a more full-spectrum way?”
Erhart says Ecozoic is eager to work on more large-scale events, as it is able to remain onsite for up to weeks at a time with no interruption.
“That’s definitely what we’re looking to move into in this next year,” Erhart says. “We are excited to find the right partner who can make a big splash with this and set the stage for what other events can do.”