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Recycled plastic is good for shopping bags, not toilets

Plastic. It’s one of those items that’s all around us and part of our everyday life, but how many of us think about the types of plastics we use and if they suit their intended purpose. We’re all growing more aware as a global society that plastics in our ocean are a big problem and BPA free, reusable water bottles, paper straws and bread clips, etc have been hugely popular to help eliminate single-use plastics.

Whilst many of us are trying to eliminate or at least reduce our plastic usage, there are products and uses for plastic that make this malleable and highly stable product an excellent choice for certain products. Bottles, toys, sponges, piping, phones, rope, cars, buildings and yes, composting toilets all use plastics in the products that make our lives easier. On the surface, many people think plastic is plastic, but it’s not until we start scratching the surface a little that we discover that not all plastics are created equal. 

Not all plastics are the same  

When it comes to the world of plastics, like many things, there are many different types that have different uses, stability and life spans. Polyethylene terephthalate for example is commonly used in plastic water bottles and is much easier to recycle than other plastics. 

Polyvinyl Chloride or PVC is used to create piping for the construction industry. PVC is incredibly strong and rigid which makes it perfect for downpipes and plumbing. 

Nylon is another great example of a type of plastic that has many uses including rope and car tyres. Its high strength and temperature resilience means it’s great for injection moulding for things like car parts and mechanical equipment. 

OK great, but what has this got to do with composting toilets?

Many composting toilet chambers are made from a type of plastic called Polyethylene and it’s important to note there’s a variety of grades when it comes to this type of plastic. Different grades of Polyethylene give the end products a range of strengths, flexibility and shelf life. 

The three different types of Polyethylene are:-

  • LDPE - Low-Density Polyethylene
  • HDPE - High Density Polyethylene
  • UHMW - Ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene

 

LDPE is the same type of plastic that’s used for shopping bags, frozen food bags, coatings for milk cartons, plastic cups, etc. This type of plastic isn’t great for products where stiffness or structural strength are needed. 

HDPE is a plastic that’s used for hard hats, insulation, piping systems, ducts and fuel tanks. This type of plastic is incredibly tough and durable and gives high tensile strength and stiffness to a range of different products. 

UHMW is an incredibly strong plastic that rivals steel in terms of strength. It’s often used to make bearings, guide rails, machinery components and marine dock fender pads. 

What type of plastic is used in composting toilets?

UV stabilised medium density black polyethylene is one of the most common types of plastics used to make composting toilet chambers, however, it’s worth noting that studies show there is a big difference between recycled and virgin Polyethylene. One study found there are 16 volatile markers difference between virgin and recycled Polyethylene. 

Virgin vs recycled Polyethylene – what’s the difference? 

Put simply, there’s a vast difference between these two types of plastics. Not only are they manufactured in slightly different ways, but they also have significant differences in tensile strength, water resistance, durability, and overall service life. This means that composting toilets made from recycled Polyethylene have a considerably shorter lifespan compared to composting toilets made from virgin Polyethylene. 

How to make sure your composting toilet isn’t made from poor quality Polyethylene

One of the easiest ways to ensure you’re getting a quality product is to ask any composting toilet companies you’re speaking with to provide accreditation documentation for the model you’re interested in. 
The other thing you can do is look at the warranty of any composting toilet chamber you’re thinking of purchasing. If there’s no warranty information on their website or in brochures, this should give you pause for thought. 

Look at the pricing structures of the composting toilets you’re considering. If comparable models are at a similar price point but one model or maker’s toilets are considerably cheaper, there’s a very good chance they’ve been able to make their pricing cheaper by using lower quality, recycled materials in the production of their composting toilets. 

If you have any questions about the types of materials we use in our composting toilets, please feel free to contact Ecoflo at any stage through our contact us page or by calling  1300 138 182.

 

References

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2214289420305718?dgcid=rss_sd_all

https://www.mdpi.com/2073-4360/13/19/3242/pdf

If you would like to chat with one of our customer service representatives, please call us on 1300 138 182.

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Ecoflo was the first company in Australia that sells composting toilets certified to the rigorous quality testing of Australian Standards. If you want to be certain your composting toilet has adequate capacity, and is safe, you need a waterless composting toilet certified to the tough performance criteria of AS/NZS 1546.2:2008.

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