The Rich Earth Institute turns human urine into fertilizer. This pioneering work supports sustainable agriculture and protects vital water resources. Learn More

Our Mission

The Rich Earth Institute is dedicated to advancing and promoting the use of human waste as a resource.

Through research, demonstration, and education projects, we strive to illustrate the positive effect of this approach in important areas including water quality, food security, energy use, soil health, economic sustainability, carbon footprint, public health, and emergency preparedness.

We seek to bring together the knowledge of many disciplines and professions in order to create workable solutions. For this reason, the various perspectives of sanitary engineers, farmers, water quality advocates, businesspeople, agricultural scientists, and regulators are all represented among our board members and collaborators.

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Meet some of our urine donors at the depot and learn more about our ongoing pharmaceutical research funded by the EPA.

The Facts

9 billion pounds

Amount of chemical fertilizer that could be replaced with the urine Americans produce each year.

320 pounds

Amount of wheat that could be grown in a year with the fertilizer from one adult’s urine.

125 gallons

Approximate volume of urine an adult produces each year.

More than 15,000

Water bodies in the US impaired due to nitrogen and phosphorous pollution.

80 percent

Portion of the nitrogen and phosphorous pollution in wastewater caused by human waste.

1.2 trillion gallons

Amount of drinkable water we use each year to flush toilets.

4000 gallons

Amount of water you could save per year by diverting urine for fertilizer.

270 percent

Increase in phosphorus fertilizer price between 1993 and 2013.

Our Work

Urine Diversion


Urine Diversion is the practice of keeping human urine separate from the rest of the wastewater stream. Collected urine can be used as fertilizer, either around the home or on a nearby farm.

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The Rich Earth Institute conducts original research in collaboration with academic and industry leaders, examining the safety and efficacy of using urine-derived fertilizers in agriculture.

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Rich Earth volunteers marching in the Strolling of the Heifers

The Rich Earth Institute has an extensive outreach agenda, educating diverse stakeholders on the science and technology behind this new approach to sanitation.

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Urine recycling does not yet have an established regulatory pathway. The Rich Earth Institute collaborates with regulators at the state and national level to develop new policies, codes, and rules to govern urine based on its unique characteristics.

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Latest News

Photo credit

World Toilet Day 2015 — Guest Posting

Written by richearth. Posted on November 19th, 2015

Half of the global cases of childhood undernutrition can be linked to inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene. Imagine the impact if, along with each pit latrine, there came a container to collect urine for boosting crop yields. Or better yet, if the latrines were all constructed as urine-diverting toilets.

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