Publicly donated urine could offer a new source of phosphorous for global agriculture.
International Water Week is an event that was held last year in Amsterdam to address water challenges that include rising sea levels, and growing demands for clean water. Green Urine was one campaign in particular that caught people’s attention, which collected people’s urine from public urinals and extracted the phosphates to create an agricultural fertilizer.
Waternet, the city’ water corporation were responsible for installing a very public set of temporary urinals in La Place de la Bourse. As reported by Rich Heap of Future Cities, the city wanted to extract the struvite from people’s “donations” so that it could be used to fertilize one hectare of green roofs across the city.
It might sound like a gimmick, but there are serious concerns over the amount of phosphorous available in the world, which is essential for plants. Waternet wants to raise awareness about the different ways that cities can use nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus in urine, as well as how it could become an essential source of phosphates used in fertilizers around the world.
The company is serious about its goals, which is why construction started in September on a processing plant that’s due to open in 2014. It includes a collection point for pure urine, and Waternet says that the wastewater from 1 million people in Amsterdam could enable it to produce 1,000 tonnes of fertilizer each year.
While the debate still rages about whether or not the Earth will run out of phosphorous, it definitely can’t hurt to find more ways of recycling various byproducts previously considered to be nothing more than “waste.”
Images: Os Rúpias