Peepoo bag by Anders Wilhelmson

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Designer Anders Wilhelmson, in collaboration with Camilla Wirseen and Peter Thuvander, has developed the Peepoo bag - a single-use, disposable toilet bag intended to improve sanitary conditions in developing nations. Update: this project is included in Dezeen Book of Ideas, which is on sale now for £12.

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The Peepoo bag is made from degradable bioplastic lined with urea.

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The used bags are clean and safe to handle, and remain odour-free for at least 24 hours, meaning they can be stored in the immediate area.

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After two-four weeks the treated faeces can be used as a high-value fertiliser.

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The bags are due for production later his year. Here's some more information from Peepoople:

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The Peepoo bag is in the form of a slim elongated bag size 14 x 38 cm. Within the bag there is a thinner gauze that measures 26 x 24 cm. The inside of the Peepoo bags is coated with a thin film of urea. Without sacrificing ergonomic function the bag’s design is adapted in every way so that it might be manufactured at as low a price as possible and sold to the groups with weakest purchasing power in the world.

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The Peepoo bag is designed to be used once, sitting, squatting or standing. If one uses it with only the hand, the thin gauze prevents all contact with the excrement. It can also be used by being placed in a cut plastic bottle or small bucket and acting approximately as a chamber pot.

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The Peepoo bag is a toilet which is not fixed to a particular place. It is simple to carry since it is small and weighs less than 10 grams. The only thing one needs to do is find a secluded spot where one can use it as a toilet.

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Peepoo bags are odour free for at least 24 hours after use and can thus be stored in the immediate environment.

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Peepoo bag is one of few sanitation solutions which require no water. The only water required is to wash the hands after use. This means that the traditional link between water and sanitation has been cut. A used Peepoo bag is clean to handle. It has become a waste that neither smell nor is dirty to take care of and collect.

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The inside of the Peepoo bag is coated with a thin film of urea. Urea is the most common fertiliser in the world and is a non-hazardous chemical. It is found, for example, in toothpaste or skin cream often under the name of carbamide. When the urea comes into contact with faeces or urine, an enzymatic breakdown takes place into ammonia and carbonate, driven by enzymes which are naturally occurring in faeces.

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As the urea is broken down, the pH value of the material increases and hygienisation begins.

Organisms which produce diseases (pathogens) which may be found in faeces (bacteria, viruses and parasites) are inactivated within 2-4 weeks depending on the surrounding temperature. The presence in urine of organisms which cause diseases is at a considerably lower level than in faeces and the hygienisation of the urine occurs more quickly. With conventional urine processing, urine sorting, the primary source of contamination is derived from faeces; this risk does not arise here since the bag is a disposable toilet.

Untreated faeces cannot be regarded as hygienised until 1-2 years storage has passed. The urea treatment is the simplest and most efficient treatment available. In the end when the bags degrade in the soil, the ammonia acts as a harmless fertiliser taken up by the plants.

The bag is made of a high performance degradable bioplastic which meets EU standard EN13432. This means that the plastic not only disintegrates but also that the molecules are broken down into carbon dioxide, water and bio-mass. Already today, the plastic is produced to 45% using renewable materials. Peepoople intends, within the near future, to find a solution which is 100% renewable. The bioplastic comprises a mixture of aromatic co-polyesters and polylactone acid (PLA), with small additives of wax and lime. PHB represent alternative bioplastics.

When all pathogens have been inactivated, two to four weeks after use, the treated faeces constitute a high value fertiliser with a considerable market value. The fertiliser will mainly be a nitrogen fertiliser due to the added urea for sanitation. Other nutrients are also available for the plants and thereby improving the soil fertility. Additionally, the organic matter in the faeces will improve the soil structure and thereby the buffering capacity and the water holding capacity which in the long term will improve the possible harvest from the fields.

Since fertilisers are an expensive and scarce commodity in developing countries, it is possible for simple economic systems to develop informally through the collection and distribution of used Peepoo bags. Consequently, the used bags represent a local resource instead of a contaminant.

The bag’s design is adapted in every way so that it might be manufactured at as low a price as possible and sold to the groups with weakest purchasing power in the world. The price is extremely advantageous compared with all competing methods, for end consumers and for society since there are no investment costs related to the use of the Peepoo bag.

Peepoo bags require no infrastructural solutions for implementation. No buildings or pipes need be built. Nor is there any need for any overhead system or investment costs. Peepoo can be simply distributed and can thus meet the enormous demand in a highly efficient manner.

Investment costs for different sanitation solutions

Local costs for installation
(not including use, maintenance costs, water costs and emptying)

Flush toilet connected to sewer or septic tank 400-1500 USD
Urban dry or wet Eco San 675-1500 USD
Condominal sewers 75-600 USD
Dry vault urine diversion 35-400 USD
Improved pit latrine or pour flush toilet 40-260 USD
Basic pit latrine 10-50 USD
Soil composting ecosan 10-40 USD
Communal toilet/latrine (50 persons per seat) 12-40 USD
Peepoo bag 0 USD

  • One

    This sounds like a fantastic idustrial production. I hoep the recollction of the peepoo bag may turn the community in one and to give opportunities for them to rebuild their food supply.

  • chapmaniac

    huh? what an awful name. good product though. awful, awful name

  • wentao

    nice name

  • archcritic

    this is disturbing. 3rd world kids modeling sheek poop. cmon.

  • http://www.eduardobaroni.com Eduardo Baroni

    It is indeen a great idea. But it´s not zero cost. For these people to use it it may need a great investment in education.

  • One

    Education is a good thing anyways for the target group. They could attain more awareness to their wayoflife if incase the product reach them. I assume the best way will be the local government distributig this to ALL.

  • NOZI

    i dont exactly understand how are you supposed to get your “stuff” inside this relatively small bag. maybe im dumb

    • Sara, Toronto, ON

      You're not dumb – I thought the same thing until I realized one could turn the bag inside out to catch and wipe, much like when picking up after one's dog.

      Actually, this kind of product would come in handy for use by first world citizens camping with limited/no access to outdoor latrines…

  • http://jg3d.blogspot.com jg3d

    some design for the real world – I like it and I rather like the name – straight to the point

  • dylan

    A great investment in education? It’s pretty simple.

    I think it’s a great idea.

    Too bad there isn’t a solution yet for what to do with the pee bags – I don’t believe that can be broken down? I guess you have to bury them. There’s not much incentive to use them for that right now.

  • odris

    Fantastic!

  • John

    Novel idea, good to see something not just designed for wealthy people.

    I can just imagine the photographer:

    “Here you go mate, take it round the corner, crap in it, then hold up your full bag so I can get a photo of you.”

  • scruces

    Looks kind of small – I would very likely miss

  • mama

    They will soon be needed for all the Wall Street vampires…

  • titisnurabadi

    woww…good idea, its cheap, simple and perhaps it solves current problem in developing countries. hmmm…one thing.., maybe they can sell their peepoo (fertilizer) to the farmer (or local goverment). so, they can earn money…perhaps, thats what they need, instead of keep their environment clean and healthy. or, they can use their own peepoo(fertilizer) to fertilize their plants,flowers,fruit..then they can sell it.

    although some people think, this idea isn’t really work, in my opinion, on the other hand, this is a fresh idea that would lead us to another ideas to solve problems, it really generates my brain to thing others solution..

  • http://clonic.ru Clonic

    Stupid idea,
    The company lobbying by manufacturers of polyethylene
    /It would be good if you left comments expressing different opinions/

  • shag

    there is a certain cynism in designing things like that. Means we, westerners, design things for them, the poor, that we would never dare to design for us. Why not propose this for homeless in the USA? It installs a degree of durability in emergency.
    I think we should plan proper sanitations system instead of dog bags.

  • dan

    spending quite some time in africa i can assure you that no one is ever going to spend a penny on a bag to poo or even pee in. this is ridiculous. people over there have other concerns than peeing into a bio-bag. it’s one of these great ideas. but maybe u can ask bono or some other millionaire to sponsor..

  • http://www.designfordevelopment.org granitegirl

    while it’s an interesting design and I’m always happy to see people addressing real world problems – it does not appear context sensitive.

    Fun name, BUT PeePoo means Nothing to the real users. Stylish fonts??? Photos of the bag in lush green forests of ?sweden???? rather than dry, scrub, grasslands, etc. which form a greater portion of the user’s geography.

    Developing designs/solutions in partnership with the real users would have revealed many issues, some of which have already been highlighted in other comments above (how do you get it in???).

  • http://www.lgblog.co.uk/ Helen-LG

    What a fantastic idea with multiple benefits.. Cute name too!

  • pato

    Î am agree withshag.
    me cuesta creer que tanta gente esté de acuerdo con semejante diseño destinado a otras personas, copiando el diseño de un objeto destinado a perros. el diseño debería ser un recurso para mejorar las condiciones de vida de otras personas, no para degradarlas aún más.
    si todo esto es una ironía, pido disculpas por no haberla entendido

  • Andrea

    is this even a proper new DESIGN?

    Concept very near to the content, in this case i leave to you the math..
    poor african people sure will love to use this intelligen tool of survival.

    so called designers today have way to much time to waste…

  • Crusty the Clown

    Agree with many of the comments above. A simple improvement could be a larger multi-use bag. Larger target, easier to fill, more bang for the buck(et).

  • jl

    “Shoot straight my son, and pray for a firm stool”. The finesse required for this to be dignified seems questionable. It is a good idea, latched onto and not let go of in the face of mounting doubt. Doo Doo gooders!

  • Cassandra

    Given that normal plastic bags are often used as portable toilets in slum communities already, I think the education needed to create a meaningful distinction between the two methods will be a massive hurdle. These just don’t sit right with me.

  • lolo

    Things need to change and we are trying new things, i think that’s great.

  • Ama

    wow.. i am thoroughly disturbed and very upset that anyone would think this is a good idea. An then trying to add “education” to this mix. What? this is how I know that what ever research was done, was never critically analysed… and it is not about numbers and seeing people go in a bag in a slum in a 3rd world country. When i say critical I mean, at the end of the day, would I use this product, and that is an emphatic “NO!”… i mean what? THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS!

  • Montgomery

    This is probably The Worst Invention ever conceived.
    Terrible. Is Peepoo bag a 1st year industrial design project?
    ….Unbelievable.

  • kathy

    Why don’t you just give them(the poor) brown paper bags?
    The only way to improve sanitation is by improving infrastructure.

    I dont think the designer has ever lived in the 3rd world.

  • apple

    Where can we get this in Asia?

    Thanks.

  • http://www.anjian.com.au Annie

    good idea, but the size of the opening causes me some concern, it seems quite small. would they come with addtional wet wipes or such.I remember moments in travel when they would have been a boon.

  • ELISE

    This is silly and degrading. Why not a composting toilet?

  • archimaniak

    please remind me again why should a poor African continental (according to pics) use this and not the North-Western hemisphere citizen?
    I’m also very curious if PROFESSOR Wilhelmson has tried it out himself first? would HE actually keep using it? or, if he’s so concerned with eco-wareness, why not make it available and marketable all around the world?
    Unless, Swedish or Euro-US feces are either too valuable, or too toxic to be disposed of in nature like that!

    this “design” is both shameful and degrading!

  • Wolfgang

    amazingly strong reactions from negative comments, surely a proper decent sanitation with composting toilets availabel to every body would be the aim, but who in fact implies these in “slum” neighborhoods anywhere? So it is very simple to put this sani-bag solution down as “degrading and shameful” but seeing that the usual alternative in these places is: bad latrines and defacation in open places, massive hygienic problems due to this circumstances – then one can come to the conclusion that comments like: “how bad, how disgraceful” this possible solution may be are cynical in its own way. They suppose that there are better, more dignified and healthier options are readily available or should just be realized. In fact nothing happens.

  • http://rahulbrown.wordpress.com rb

    The Peepoo will not work in the context of Indian slum.

    Check out the analysis of that case here.

    http://rahulbrown.wordpress.com/2010/03/04/will-the-peepoo-disposable-toilet-work-for-indian-slums/

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000949428561 Audreyjimjack Ellis

    Stupid idea. Surely people will go into the bush – dig a hole – do their business then bury it as people have do traditionally…. After a few weeks – its broken down into fertiliser anyway. This is really a solution for overcrowded slum cities with no sanitation. Sanitation would be a better option. As for the bag…But surely they'd prefer to spend thier money on FOOD?

  • Lisa (Columbus, Ohio)

    My 6th grade class and I read the article about Peepoo bags in Scope magazine. They were facinated to learn what Peepoo bags can offer to approximately 40% of the world’s population who do not have access to modern toilets. I do not believe using a Peepoo bag in the areas where it is being used & utilizing it as fertilizer is any more degrading than the other options in such places. Certainly the health benefits provided by the Peepoo’s technology is a superior option to allowing 1.5 million children to die annually from diahrea, often contracted from contamination from human waste.

  • MakBhoot

    Why should bagging poop be considered a serious sanitation solution?

    How the scaling up of the practice be manged – garbage dumps in an urban slum or rural street corner piled up with poop/urine bags? Addressing the problem of combined mass (including the peepoo bags) of human waste is challenging. Post disaster (rescue-relief-rehab phases) its certainly effective.

    Besides mass generalization applicable to everyone of us, appropriate regional sanitation solutions need be integral to municipal managements (along with garbage) it’s not a glamorous task and however playful a thought may sound is welcome.

    Toilet is the most complex and costly part of a house. Disposal of toilet waste is the among the most complex and costly operation for a campus or city. Human urine and excreta are toxic, foul smelling. Process of natural decomposition is prolonged and attracts major insects, deceases. Composting toilets remain only as romantic demonstrations good for community garden/co-op situations where people must diligently volunteer to maintain them. After the individual disposal only the problem compounds and the Peepoo bags provide only marginal advantage.

    The scientists and researches experimenting with human waste need to note it’s not at all significant as bio-gas or fertilizer unlike the cows/chicken coops.

    Bio gas from human excreta – say 100 people per day is not enough to of any use (warming water or light a bulb for a family) while urine/fecal matter could actually destroy a healthy plant within a week. Combined knowledge of everything from social dynamics to advanced chemistry and urban design is necessary to address this issue.

  • http://boltgroup.com Monty

    I love the concept, the design and the name. But the challenge is to consider how this solution works on a macro scale – hundreds of thousands of people living in a small area. Will it work there?