When most people hear the term public urinal, it’s often accompanied by horrifying images and the recollection of an equally unpleasant smell. In an attempt to change people’s perception of these waste receptacles, California’s Hyphae Design Laboratory developed the PPlanter, an eco-friendly public urinal that not only gives people the chance to relieve themselves in the fresh air, but uses bamboo to process their pee.
The self-contained modular system is easy to transport, and because it’s open-air, there is also much less chance of it being used for unsavoury purposes such as drug use. The PPlanter has no need for harsh chemicals thanks to its bio-filters, and it uses less water than a conventional toilet and sink combo. Plus, complete with a disposable funnel, it’s an outdoor pursuit that can be enjoyed by men and women alike.
Here’s how it works: once a user has relieved themselves, they use a foot pump to draw water up from a reservoir that they can use to wash their hands in the attached sink. That same water is used to rinse out the urinal, after which it passes into an airtight tank before it is dispersed amongst the bamboo bio-filters housed in a mixture of rocks, wood chip and styrofoam. Nitrogen and phosphorous feed the plants, while carbohydrates and protein feed the bacteria to complete the cycle.
The PPlanter proved last year that it could withstand 300 people within an eight hour period while setup in San Francisco – a trial that prompted the city to order a permanent version complete with a composting toilet. With an expected lifespan of 10-15 years, the public urinal is also affordable, which means it could find be put use at festivals, areas with poor plumbing, and even developing world countries where there is no plumbing at all.
Images by Hyphae Design Laboratory