More on Water-Efficient Toilets: Dual-Flush Models

February 21, 2012

In yesterday’s post on water-efficient toilets, I did not mention dual-flush toilets, which exist in places such as Australia, where water scarcity is more prevalent.

According to HowStuffWorks, dual-flush toilets handle solid and liquid waste differently, using less water to evacuate whatever waste exists in the bowl, whether solid or liquid. The user has a choice of what kind of flushing action is needed.

Again, dual-flush toilets are meant to conserve water in countries where there is either a water shortage or the water supply and treatment facilities might be over-burdened. But let’s be clear: water shortages do not take place just outside the United States. How Stuff Works writes clearly on this issue:

“The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that by the year 2013, an estimated 36 states will experience water shortages as a result of increased water usage and inefficient water management from aging regional infrastructures. Using less water to flush liquid waste makes sense, but in the United States there may be cultural biases that make accepting a more hands-on approach to personal waste harder to accept [source: Safe Plumbing].”

Australians are credited with the development of dual-flush technology. In 1980, Bruce Thompson of Caroma Industries created the inaugural two-button flushing system that translated into a half flush for liquid waste and a full flush for solid waste. Most modern dual-flush toilets use less than a gallon of water to flush liquid waste and around 1.6 gallons to flush solid waste. Old toilets used five gallons or more per flush.

Today, dual flush toilets are used widely in Australia, Europe and Asia, and they’re catching on in other areas as well. Increased environmental awareness, government regulation, the availability of monetary incentives and the rising cost of water are making the changeover to dual-flush and low flow toilet designs more attractive to U.S. consumers.

For those wanting the tidiest toilet bowl, however, dual-flush toilets are known for leaving waste residue. For some this negative consideration might weigh more heavily than their desire to save water. But there’s always the toilet brush.

Also, those wanting to know more shouldn’t forget the other option: a composting toilet.

Photos: mrpbps and zaskem



Glenn Meyers

Writer, documentary producer, and director. Meyers is a contributor to CleanTechnica, and founder of Green Streets MediaTrain, a communications connection and eLearning hub. As an independent producer, he's been involved in the development, production and distribution of television and distance learning programs for both the education industry and corporate sector. He also is an avid gardener and loves sustainable innovation.