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What do consumers think about recycling human urine as fertiliser? Perceptions and attitudes of a university community in South India

Simha, Prithvi; Lalander, Cecilia; Ramanathan, Anooj; Vijayalakshmi, C.; McConville, Jennifer R.; Vinneras, Bjorn; Ganesapillai, M.


Sanitation systems based on source separation and valorisation of human urine can improve the environmental sustainability of wastewater management. Yet, the social acceptability of such new, resource oriented sanitation practices have not been assessed systematically. We attempt to address this research gap by reporting the findings of a survey conducted at a South Indian university that evaluated support for urine recycling among 1252 Indian consumers. We place our findings in the context of the Theory of Planned Behaviour, quantify consumer attitude to urine recycling through an exploratory numerical approach, and identify explanatory factors that shape consumer beliefs and perceptions. Overall, a moderately positive attitude was observed: 68% stated human urine should not be disposed but recycled, 55% considered it as fertiliser, but only 44% would consume food grown using it. While 65% believed using urine as crop fertiliser could pose a health risk, majority (80%) believed it could be treated so as to not pose a risk. The respondents' willingness to consume' urine-fertilised food was found to be strongly influenced by their willingness to pay. Consumer environmental attitudes, as evaluated using the New Ecological Paradigm scale, did not influence their attitude towards urine recycling behaviour. We thus believe that simply appealing to people's environmental sensitivities is not enough for introducing environmentally-friendly technologies like urine recycling, but that more targeted marketing messages are needed. We find sufficient support among our surveyed consumers for urine recycling but highlight that further research is needed to identify what information and agency will help translate positive attitudes into action and behaviour. (C) 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


Survey; Ecological sanitation; New ecological paradigm; Source separation; Theory of planned behaviour; Wastewater

Publicerad i

Water Research
2018, Volym: 143, sidor: 527-538