“As much as 5 percent of our supply of fresh water is used to carry away urine,” according to Falcon Waterfree Technologies. In a drought-stricken California, where whole towns are having water rationed and businesses are being hit hard, that’s a devastating figure. That’s why the VP of Engineering at LA’s Staples Center–home to the NBA’s Lakers and Clippers, not to mention more than a hundred other shows a year–put in the waterfree urinal technology: “No more leaks, no more floods, no more constantly running valves wasting our region’s water.” The waterless technology is an environmentalist’s dream: every Falcon Waterfree urinal saves about 40,000 gallons a year. But its logistical effect is even greater: because Falcon Waterfree uses no water, there’s no energy expended to source, transport or treat water, so the carbon footprint–after the initial manufacture–is near zero.
Urine is already liquid and it’s mostly a sterile liquid at that. The other advantage urine has? It’s subject to gravity, like everything else. Given the opportunity then, it will flush itself. That’s what entrepreneur James Krug liked so much about the innovation in waterless flushing made by Ditmar Gorges, a German engineer. Instead of water, the Gorges urinal uses a plastic cartridge that traps the harmful gases. Krug figured he’d practically give away the urinals and sell the cartridges repeatedly–an age-old strategy familiar to anyone who owns a printer or a razor. (They need replacing after about 7,000 uses.) There’s some controversy, as around any innovation. Plumbers contended the waterfree urinals weren’t safe, but these objections have been largely put to rest–and the Falcon Waterfree urinals are showing up everywhere. Falcon Waterfree Technology is marketed under various brands now internationally, including Ideal Standard, Sloan Waterfree, and Porcher.