Although water is intrinsic to the Dutch landscape, freshwater water supply is not always able to meet the country’s demand. With climate change causing frequent hot and dry periods, salinisation, and increased pressure from socioeconomic developments, water shortages could very well be on the rise in the Netherlands. Government measures have been taken to enhance the resilience of freshwater stocks around the country, but the effort is more crucially needed from freshwater consumers to conserve water when possible (Delta Commissaris, 2020).
In collaboration with Stichting Rondgang, Semilla, Wetbox, the Revolution Foundation, Gemeente Amsterdam, and the NDSM-Werf, DGTL plans to implement an alternative to flush and mobile toilets with the circular sanitation program. By aiming to fundamentally change the sanitary system which includes collection, transport, and processing, the festival will make use of compost toilets where human waste will be separated. Urine will be filtered and purified during the festival by Semilla with the help of space technology to create a clean stream of gray water that is clean enough to flush other toilets. This subsequently creates a closed water cycle while allowing valuable raw materials like struvite and phosphate from urine to be extracted and then used for fertilization. Solid human waste is collected separately to be processed by Stichting Rondgang into compost. This system is expected to save more than 200,000 L of freshwater during the course of the festival which will result in a tremendous decrease compared to previous years. Ultimately, DGTL hopes this pilot will demonstrate that it is possible to overcome the complexities of vague regulations and intricate supply chains for the circular transition of such a vital system as sanitation.
DGTL's water usage
This figure represents DGTL's water usage through the years. In 2018, the festival switched from predominantly flush toilets (2017) to portable toilets, but eventually went back to flush toilets in 2019. Although portable toilets don't use much water, they do make use of chemicals to mask odors and process the waste. The 2020 circular sanitation program hopes to combat both excessive water usage and chemical pollution.