Reframing human excreta management as part of food and farming systems
Journal article, 2020

Recognition of human excreta as a resource, rather than as waste, has led to the emergence of a range of new and innovative nutrient recovery solutions. Nevertheless, the management of human excreta remains largely rooted in current sanitation and wastewater management approaches, which often makes nutrient recovery an add-on to existing infrastructures. In this paper, we argue that framing human excreta management as a resource recovery challenge within waste management obscures important trade-offs. We explore the factors that would be brought to the fore by reframing human excreta management as part of food and farming systems. We find that such a reframing would accentuate (at least) six aspects of critical importance that are currently largely overlooked. Recognizing that the proposed framing may also have its limitations, we argue that it has the potential to better guide human excreta management towards long-term global food, soil, and nutrient security while reducing the risk of compromising other priorities related to human and environmental health.

resource recovery

nutrient management

nutrient recovery

human excreta management

wastewater 28 management



Robin Harder

University of British Columbia (UBC)

Rosanne Wielemaker

Wageningen University and Research

Sverker Molander

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Environmental Systems Analysis

Gunilla Öberg

University of British Columbia (UBC)

Water Research

0043-1354 (ISSN)

Vol. 175 115601

Resource recycling from sanitation to farming systems to regenerate soil and land: identifying approaches that are feasible and preferable

Formas, 2017-01-31 -- 2020-06-30.

Subject Categories

Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

Water Engineering

Other Agricultural Sciences

Environmental Sciences





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