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City of San Francisco Doubles Down on Eco-Toilets for the Tenderloin

Scott Lucas | March 4, 2014 | Lifestyle Story City Life

Remember the PPlanter? Sure you do. It was the eco-toilet that was going to turn public urination from a nuisance into a chance to let bamboo grow? Received a $180,000 from the city for a test run? It gave C.W. Nevius the chance to make a truly dad-joke pun about growing sweat peas?

See we knew you'd remember that part. So it turns out that not only has the PPlanter been a PPerfect success, the city is going to make it PPermanent and is even exPpanding the Pprogram.

Sorry about that. We're done now.

But it's true. The city has decided to make the current eco-toilet ongoing, but has also ordered an additional unit.

The PPlanter is designed by Oakland firm Hyphae Design Laboratory. (The name is a reference to the multicellular tubes that make up the body of fungi—not to ghost riding the whip.) According to Gizmag, users do their business behind a privacy panel (there's a funnel inside for women), and use a foot pump to draw water into a built in sink for hand washing. That water then rinses out the urinal, carrying the waste into an airtight tank. At that point, the liquid is used to water bamboo plants. "There is reportedly little if any smell." It's a pretty cool idea, and one that has survived some real world tests.

The one in the Tenderloin has withstood a maximum rate of 300 uses over an eight hour period of time. The model that the city has now ordered will come with two urinals and a composting toilet. The top half of the unit is transparent, which will hopefully act as a deterrent to drug use.

And hey, if the new toilets don't still work out, we can always turn them into nice little parklets.

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