Is human urine the way forward to changing agricultural practices when it comes to fertilisers? Toopi Organics, a Bordeaux-based French startup, strongly believe so.
Every day, we produce large quantities of urine, at no cost. So instead of flushing it down the toilet, what if it was transformed into something useful?
Urine is made up of 95 percent water as well as other compounds such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, all of which help plants grow. They are known as the "Big 3" primary nutrients used to produce synthetic fertilisers, a process that is both expensive and polluting.
Founded in 2019, the startup developed an innovative microbiological process. It then set up its own factory to transform human urine into fertilisers. Toopi sells these to agricultural cooperatives and fertiliser manufacturers.
Their process makes it possible to cultivate bacteria on a large scale that are capable, for example, of fixing atmospheric nitrogen, in order to replace nitrogenous fertilisers derived from fossil resources. The first Toopi product has been tested in the field in a dozen studies and has shown similar agronomic efficiency to synthetic fertilisers, at a lower cost to the farmer says Pierre Huguier, scientific manager and co-founder of Toopi Organics.
The challenge is now to collect large volumes of human urine. The startup is offering two types of toilets: fixed toilets (male and female) and separated toilets. Toopi Organics has started to install them in middle and high schools, in a stadium and in a company. At the same time, it is also collecting it in other places such as medical analysis laboratories. The company is also targeting gas stations, schools and, more broadly, all places that receive the public.