Technology of Ecological Sanitation
Ecological sanitation or Ecosan or Eco-san, as it is commonly known as, is a contemporary sanitation management technology that recognizes human excreta and water from households not as waste products but as viable resources, which when safely recovered and treated can be re-used again. Here, nutrients and water present in these so-called waste products like human excreta, household wastewater and greywater is not discarded into rivers, lakes or groundwater aquifers, but effectively exploited and applied in productive activities related to agriculture, horticulture or wasteland greening. This minimizes environmental degradation as well as reduces health hazards associated with sanitation, contaminated water and harmful waste products.
However, constricting Ecosan into a single definition is not easy, as it is not a specific technology, but is actually a novel approach to the entire process of sanitation. Based on recycling principles, it goes beyond the purview of taking care of environmental sanitation and includes many eco-friendly activities and disease-prevention processes, such as wastewater disposal, wastewater treatment, vector control, etc. Thus, this alternative approach towards ecologically and economically sound sanitation does not have anything to do with a certain technology, but in reality it is an entirely new technique of recycling and reusing what has been regarded as waste products in the past – a sustainable practice adopted for recovering and retaining waste products on-site, which are then eventually reused as resources, such as a fertilizers and soil conditioners in agriculture.
Advantages of Ecological Sanitation Technology
When compared to sewer-based (flush-and-forget) or pit-based (drop-and-store) sanitation systems, ecosan systems or the ecological sanitation technology has various advantages to offer, a few of them being:
- It enhances agricultural output
- It prevents the degradation of soil fertility
- It reduces water pollution by curbing surface and ground water pollution
- It helps in recovering bioenergy.