S.10 Container-Based Toilet

A Container-Based Toilet is an on-site sanitation solution, available in a variety of forms that work on the principle of containing the excreta. Faeces and urine are collected in sealable, removable containers (also sometimes called cartridges), where they are sealed and stored until they are transported to a Transfer Station C.6 or treatment facility. The portable Container-Based Toilet allows for private in-home use and easy and convenient collection and transport. Very large containers also can be installed below multiple latrines to simplify emptying S.7 .

The Container-Based Toilet can effectively serve a community with a safe and personal sanitation facility. Unlike Chemical Toilets S.11 that are shared facilities, Container- Based Toilets are no larger than a bucket and fit within the home or tent. They come in a variety of forms from simple buckets with lids (not advisable), to buckets lined with a urea impregnated bag, e.g. the specialised biodegradable ‘peepoo bags’, to more sophisticated designs that divert urine. Distribution of the Container-Based Toilets can be done quickly and by hand.

Design Considerations

The size of the Container-Based Toilet vault must be chosen according to the anticipated number of users and the collection capacity and interval. The size of the collection container should not exceed 50–60 L to ensure easy and manual removal and transport. Containers should be fully sealable and equipped with handles to ensure safe handling, intermediate storage (if required), storage and transport. A simple cubical can be constructed within the home to increase privacy. Where squatting is preferred, a wooden box can be built to create a platform for the user over the container.


Container-Based Toilets are either prefabricated containers or can be a mixture of both prefabricated containers and a locally-made box for holding the container. The holding box and the cubicles can be made from wood, woven mats, ferro-cement or metal sheets. Toilet seats or squatting pans can be obtained or produced locally or prefabricated alternatives may be used. Some models of Container-Based Toilets require a bag-type lining, a supplier of these will need to be secured. Biodegradable bags should be favoured as they make further treatment processes like composting easier to complete.


Container-Based Toilets can be an appropriate solution in all phases of an emergency, provided a company or other organisation is ensuring regular collection, transport and emptying. Without a management service for emptying the containers, this is not a feasible option. A key benefit of this technology is that it increases security for users by eliminating the need to leave the residence to use the toilet (for example at night) and can promote proper management of children’s excreta. Container-Based Toilets can be implemented relatively quickly and distributed by hand, if stocks are readily available. They do not need a permanent structure and the toilets can be moved if needed, making the technology more attractive in situations where people may have to move. Container-Based Toilets are particularly suitable for densely populated urban environments. In situations where a bag-based sanitation system (e.g. PeePoo bags) is in place, the transition to a more improved Container- Based Toilet design at a later phase can be easily achieved. Where a longer-term solution is sought, the urine diversion Container-Based Toilet should be considered to reduce treatment costs.

Operation and Maintenance

The division of operation and maintenance (O & M) tasks and responsibilities between users and potential service providers need to be clearly defined and considered in the planning process. Key O & M tasks include the regular emptying, cleaning and replacing of the collection containers (depending on the size of the container and the number of users), by either the user or a collector/service provider. The containers are then transported by Manual or Motorised Transport C.1 C.2 to the treatment or resource recovery centres where the contents can be safely managed. Containers require careful cleaning by trained staff in a designated cleaning area that can safely manage the hazardous cleaning water. Each Container-Based Toilet needs to be supplied with the appropriate anal cleansing material.

Health and Safety

Handwashing Facilities U.7 should be provided and handwashing with soap after using the toilet use must be addressed as part of hygiene promotion activities X.12. Service providers responsible for collecting and emptying containers are particularly at risk of contracting excreta related diseases. Close management of emptying procedures together with good personal protective equipment and bathing facilities for workers are essential for worker protection.


Container-Based Toilets are moderately expensive to implement. However, they can be implemented rapidly and once managed well can be used sustainably in the long-term. Any cost calculations, however, also need to reflect additional O & M requirements like frequent collection, transport, cleaning, storage, treatment and final disposal or reuse of the sludge.

Social Considerations

The potential introduction of Container-Based Toilets should be discussed with the target communities beforehand as the system may have behavior change implications and to match the user interface preference (sitter vs. squatter, anal cleansing practices, color etc.). Thorough training or orientation might be needed to support acceptance, ensure proper use and maintenance of the facilities and to avoid accidental misuse. This is especially important where urine diversion models are being introduced.


  • No need for permanent structures, thereby accommodating the needs of mobile, or transient residents
  • Reduces risk of gender-based violence
  • Can be used within the household , thereby ensuring easy access both day and night and can also improve management of children’s faeces
  • Suitable where constraints such as risk of flooding, high water table, rocky ground or collapsing soil exist


  • Medium to high initial cost
  • Depends on the quality of a regular collection service
  • Need for secure disposal or treatment site
  • Requires well-trained user and service personnel for use, maintenance, servicing and monitoring

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