Pee-Cycling: A Smart Model of Sustainability

Corey HarnishInnovation


We all have heard of recycling paper bags, cups, food waste. How about recycling human pee?

Amsterdam celebrated the King’s Day on 27th April with people fuelling up with pints and towers of beer. The natural process was inevitable: the consumption of large quantities of beer lead to the production of large quantities of well… human pee. The local water board ‘Waternet’ is adding dimension to the words like ‘recycling’ and ‘sustainability’ by putting the waste to use.

This third celebration of birthday of King Willem-Alexander attracted almost 700,000 visitors, nearing the actual number of city residents.

The three celebration venues collected 23,000 litres of urine and turned them into fertilizer. For the participants, it meant doing good while having a ball. The people were engaged enthusiastically in downing a great deal of beer (often a special low-alcohol “event beer” sold for the occasion). The urine was sent to a factory where Waternet extracts phosphate compound with help of few minerals.

Amsterdam started collecting phosphate, an increasingly rare fertilizer, from sewage in 2013. The compound collected from the the event’s urine is enough to irrigate crops and plant covering an area equal to that of 10,000 soccer fields every year.

Check out our infograph  to see the whole process!

           “We want to show what terms like ‘sustainability’ and ‘a circular economy’ really                mean”

– said alderman Abdeluheb Choho, who is in charge of the sustainability portfolio on the city council.

But how can you personally add to such a model of sustainability? Here’s what we suggest:

  • Stop using the tap water excessively.
  • Make compost with the biodegradable waste from kitchen.
  • If you loved the idea of using your urine for good purposes, you can find a nice list here telling you what to do with it.

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Corey Harnish

Corey is the CEO of Better Word International, leading the development of The Good Cards which is an innovative online-gaming platform and app that engages people worldwide in doing good deeds for happiness and global sustainability. As an active life coach and aspiring social justice activist, Corey empowers individuals and communities and helps them to flourish through personal development coaching and community service involvement.