Public urination is objectionable. There is the issue of the smell of urine, the disfigurement of the street landscape and the exposure of body parts.
Amsterdam, the capital and most populous city of the Netherlands, is accepting that public urination takes place and has decided to do something about it.
The plant box, called GreenPee, serves a dual purpose, providing late-night revellers with a place to relieve themselves if they can’t find a public toilet while the urine goes onto odour-absorbing hemp fibres and composts into a phosphate-rich organic fertiliser. This fertiliser can be used to fertilise parks and green areas in a natural way.
Amsterdam city council first collaborated with GreenPee in 2018 when they installed four of the urinal planters. GreenPee is manufactured by Dutch company Urban Senses.
“Independent evaluation showed that there was a 50% decrease in wild peeing after installing the GreenPees,” GreenPee inventor Richard de Vries told Dezeen.
“So Amsterdam wanted to expand the project and place more GreenPees in the central district of the city.”
GreenPee planter box urinals can also be found in Vlaardingen and Beekbergen in the Netherlands, and Mechelen and Genk in Belgium.
De Vries says the planters can save thousands of litres of drinking water as they don’t need to be flushed with litres of water, unlike traditional urinals. It is also a more sustainable option because it converts the urine into organic fertiliser for plants.
“Urine has a lot of phosphates in it and the phosphate mines are drying out so this is a very good sustainable alternative that we would otherwise flush down the toilet,” said de Vries.
As well as being decorative, the urinal’s planters act as micro-ecosystems for insects.
“The plants in the GreenPee also give a positive environmental message, clean the air and attract bees to the city centre,” added de Vries.