La fumainerie




Localisation: Mérignac (33)

Sector: Recycling

Date of creation: 2019

Date of meeting : 22/04/2021

Maturity of the project: experimentation

A citizens’ association that accompanies urban territories in the transition of their food-excretion system


La Fumainerie [1] is an association under the law of 1901 founded in February 2019, located in Bordeaux. The association has given itself 2 years to carry out an experiment which aims to show that it is possible to re-circulate our excretory feeding system. The aim of this circularisation is to valorise the nutrients present in our excreta and to participate in the effort to preserve our water resources. The objectives of the experiment are to highlight the benefits of a more circular and ecological sanitation system and to measure the level of social accessibility of a profound change in our sanitation methods.

Ecological sanitation is a circular excreta management process. It takes into account :

  • conditioning, which corresponds to the storage of the material in a closed space.
  • sanitation, i.e. the hygienisation of the material. There are soft methods (e.g. composting) and active methods (e.g. pyrolysis). Whatever process is chosen, the safety of people and the environment must be promoted above all.
  • recovery and recycling of materials. We must favour a return to the soil of the materials.


The association sets up dry toilets in private homes (separation of urine and faeces at the source), collects urine and then seeks or develops adapted urine and faecal matter recovery channels in partnership with local public and private players.

The ultimate goal is not the generalisation of a single solution, but rather a collective awareness and deployment of material extraction solutions and management systems that adapt to needs.

  • 30 urine collection sites since September 2021
    • 28 sites in private homes
    • 3 sites in places open to the public (a co-working wood, a third place and an association of animation and artistic diffusion)
  • a total of 86 co-producers who use the toilets

Industrial and territorial ecology through the development of a local urine and faecal matter recovery system and cooperation between players (La Fumainerie, which works with Toopie to recover urine, Recup Bokashi Aquitaine for the co-composting of organic matter and with Un petit coin de paradis to design adapted separative toilets).

Recycling by removing urine and faeces from the status of humanity’s ultimate waste.

How the project works

To listen to Ambre Diazabakana present the project, you can watch the video at the bottom of the article!

La Fumainerie is an association under the French law of 1901 which is composed as follows

  • A collegiate management team of 6 people, including some co-producers of the network. They are citizens of the Bordeaux metropolis who wish to become actors and decision-makers in their sanitation
  • 2 employees, including a coordinator and a network coordinator, supported by a civic service employee (present for 6 months in the association). They are all in charge of urine collection but also of the bokashi (pooling of human resources).
  • The membership, numbering 99 in 2020.

The association collects urine from 30 sites which represents about 86 people, 1097 kg of urine and 345 kg of faeces collected in April 2021 and 5200 litres of urine collected since September and 1700 kg of faeces collected since September.

Les partenaires techniques de l’association sont :

  • Un petit coin de Paradis a producer of dry toilets that has developed a model adapted to the activity of the Fumainerie.
  • Recup Bokashi Aquitaine with whom the association shares human and material resources for the collection and composting of materials
  • Toopi Organics, which recovers urine for use as biostimulants.
  • An industrial composting platform (PENA Environnement). As the association is in an experimental phase, PENA Environnement has agreed to charge only for the collection of the bins (€60 per tonne for transport) and not for the cost of processing the material (between €90 and €100 per tonne).

The first issue in excreta recovery is the method of collection. Source separation avoids contamination of urine (which contains very few pathogens) by faeces. Devices already exist on the market: dry male or female urinals and “separating” toilets:

  • urine flows forward by gravity
  • faeces and toilet paper are collected at the back in a suitable container.

However, the collectors already on the market were not adapted to the urine collection method developed by La Fumainerie. Collection is carried out at home using electrically assisted cargo bikes. The containers were not suitable for this mode of transport. For urine, for example, the bins did not have a watertight closing system.

La Fumainerie therefore worked in partnership with Une petit coin de Paradis to develop separate toilets adapted to their mode of collection. To combat bad odours, inputs are added to the various containers:

  • lactic acid at the bottom of the urine containers to stabilise the urea. This stabilisation of urea prevents its degradation into ammonia, the molecule responsible for bad odours..
  • sawdust in the faeces tanks to allow faster drying, to cover the material to prevent the invasion of pests (flies) and therefore to avoid bad odours.

The implementation of such an ecological sanitation system requires a rethinking of toilet design:

  • the need for a well ventilated or at least air-conditioned space. Instead of putting the air-conditioning up, it makes sense to install the air-conditioning at the bottom of the room in order to draw the bad smells downwards.
  • rethink the lighting system: overhead lighting makes the use of toilets by viewing materials unattractive.

Initially, the starting point for collections was Mérignac. However, this organisation wasted time, due to the time spent on the roads, and increased the risk of road accidents. La Fumainerie therefore set up neighbourhood houses with Recup Bokashi Aquitaine in the city centre of Bordeaux to optimise collections, supported by the city of Bordeaux.

In each of these houses are stored containers for urine and faeces, pre-filled with lactic acid and sawdust, and the mode of locomotion. After each collection, the urine and faeces containers are stored there. Once a week, a truck collects the urine and faeces from the various neighbourhood houses in order to keep the carbon emissions of the carbon network to a minimum.

During the week, there are fixed collection times of one hour. The co-producers must be available at the time of the slot they have been allocated.

Before each collection, the collector checks the app to see how many co-producers he or she has to see and how many empty containers he or she has to take with him or her. The application is also used to notify the co-producer of the collector’s arrival: on leaving the previous location, the collector sends a message to the co-producer.

La Fumainerie pools its collection resources (both human and material) with the association Récup Bokashi Aquitaine [2]. The association provides the people of Bordeaux with a biobucket to collect and recycle their waste.

The association provides users with a bokashi type bucket. The biowaste is recycled by anaerobic fermentation made possible by the addition of “efficient micro-organisms” (EM). These micro-organisms prevent the material from rotting and prepare it for better assimilation into the soil. Bokashi has three advantages: odourless, easy to use and hygienic.

The two associations pool their collection. In the same time slot, collectors can collect excreta and/or buckets of bokashi.

Once the urine and faeces have been collected by La Fumainerie, they must be recycled.

La Fumainerie currently works with two entities:

  • Pena environnement [3], which recovers faeces through tunnel composting
  • Toopie organics [4], which recovers urine as biostimulants via lactic fermentation.


Changing our current excreta system to a dry toilet model firstly limits the contamination of drinking water.

In addition, the removal of excreta from the wastewater system also allows for the removal of a large quantity of nitrogen, a mineral that is partially captured in the wastewater treatment plants. Downstream, this helps to limit eutrophication phenomena.

Reproductibility and development perspective

The aim of the experiment is to show that it is possible to circularise our excretory feeding system.

Sources :

[1] La Fumainerie

[2] Récup 

[3] Pena environnement

Legal information

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