Green Live & Work

Recycling toilet porcelain: streets, landscaping, & veneers

recycling toilets

Recycling and up-cycling is common practice; even toilets are jumping into the game, and you might be surprised where your beloved porcelain god can end up.

recycling toilets

Potty Mouth and Other Toilet Talk

Some people shudder, some people wince, but really, it is just a fact of life. We all do it. Face the facts. We toilet. So, what happens when our porcelain thrones are no more? It goes to a far-far away place, generally known as a landfill, never to be seen again. Some people, in an effort to save their beloved potty will try to up-cycle it into a planter of shame, putting petunias into the water tank and filling the bowl with an aggressive accent plant like a spiked agave, but no.

That is not what these units were meant for. They were meant for bigger and better things, like being crushed into porcelain aggregate and being given new found toilet-awesomeness.

Paving the Way- in toilets

Bellingham, Washington was big news at the end of last year. In an effort to attain Greenroads Certification, the town took 400 hard-up cans out of a landfill, crushed them and used them as the base for their thirty percent recycled content sidewalk path, they were able to attain the certification with flying colors and created a project that made people stop and ponder- uhm… is this sanitary?

The answer is, of course it is. The crushed toilets used in this project weren’t full of – well- you know. Bellingham is paving the way with an over-achieving green effort through their Greenroads Certification project.

Latrines and Liriope

Beyond sidewalks and streets paved in latrines- which is new to me, I have seen the commode planters played out many-a-time, and don’t get me wrong, it is a nice thought. Well, really, it isn’t. It isn’t the prettiest way to go about flower arranging, but at least the content may be far from the previous contents.

I have some friends in Texas who have paved their entire quarter-mile driveway with defunct toilets with cacti planted in them. It makes for a very interesting drive, that’s for sure. Oh! And you and it makes for easy direction giving… turn right at the first toilet on the road. Wink. People tend to really shrink back and shy away from the thought of re-using toilets… but what else are you supposed to do with them? They are made of porcelain.

A Serious Case of Potty Mouth

One of my friends who happens to run a franchise of a top-grossing junk hauling business (which is one hundred percent landfill free… high-five moment for them, by the way) mentioned in passing to a group of colleagues, that he has been told that the guy who he re-sells the toilets he picks up, actually recycles them for veneers. Yeah. For toofers. For porcelain teeth.

Potty mouth, anyone? I can’t find any documentation anywhere about this recycling endeavor, and I would think people would make a real stink about it, but I truly can’t find the goods about this. Maybe he was yanking our chain?

Porcelain by the Pound

Crushing the useless bogs for porcelain aggregate is not an uncommon practice, as much as we don’t want to probably imagine the  ‘potty mouth’ aspect of things. However, smashing up the product that would otherwise take up tons of space in landfills after it is re-claimed and then offering up the different levels of crushed product lends towards many applications.

Some companies scoop the toilets from landfills and create several variations of products for customer to choose from: an aggregate- a pebble-like product good for many projects;  a porcelain sand- a near silica like product great for filling gaps and smaller spaces; and then a porcelain stone- a rounded product that often gets used in landscaping.

Varied Recycling alternatives

Again, many applications can be utilized from the demolishing of the whole toilets, which were landfill bound. These applications are very easily translated into real, easy to swallow recycling programs… probably because  people don’t think so much about that there may have been a toilet involved in the previous life of the product.

Who really cares what something was before it was recycled? If it is clean now, and you are able to use it how you want to, shouldn’t that be enough to make it sweet- perfection? When deciding to go green while recycling, toilets may be the furthest thing from your mind, but these hard to recycle items do have options beyond the petunias in the bowl, just ask Bellingham, Washington. Their townsfolk walk on crushed-up toilets all of the time.


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