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The Disadvantages of Composting Toilets

By Em Connell McCarty ; Updated September 21, 2017

The concept behind composting toilets is timeless. Using the natural composting process rather than chemicals, a septic or a sewage system is becoming the popular answer to a number of problems. Shortages of water, remote locations, aging septic systems and the desire to have more yard and less septic field have caused a surge in popularity for the composting toilet. However, a composting toilet has certain disadvantages.


You may be required to get a permit from your township, county or state before you can install a composting toilet. Additionally, you may be required to have a conventional waste-water system in place as a back-up for your composting toilet. Many health officials may not be familiar with composting toilet systems and can be reluctant to grant a permit.


A composting toilet does require more maintenance and knowledge of the system than a standard flush toilet system does. If you do not maintain your composting toilet or misuse it, the toilet may not function as intended. This could result in a back up of waste, a lack of necessary drainage or incomplete composting. Additionally, you will probably need to install and maintain a ventilation system and possibly a heating system to assist the composting process.


Smaller units and badly maintained units can become overwhelmed and not compost properly. Should your composting toilet become backed up or not compost properly, there can be a risk of contamination. This can create an odor and health hazards for the owner. If the end product is not properly composted, it may contain dangerous contaminants.


Many home owners prefer to hire someone else to remove and dispose to the end product of a composting toilet. If you do decide to do your own removal, you need to know the proper disposal method allowed by your township, county or state. While you may be able to remove and bury the solid matter--the "humus"--on your own, the liquid waste--the "leachate"--will require an approved disposal system, possibly even a graywater system, to be properly disposed of.