Glastonbury to turn festivalgoer pee into eco-friendly fertilizer

Now that's what you call a golden harvest

As normies arrive at the world's most middle-of-the-road festival today, by the end of the week Glastonbury will be awash with hundreds of thousands of gallons of chemical-laced urine.

As with most years, the question is what to do with all that excreta. One project is harnessing host site Worthy Farm's cow slurry biomethane plant to produce graphene, the wunder material no one knows what to do with.

But another is looking at human number ones. Bristol startup Peequal provides flat-packed female urinals made from recycled ocean plastic and sugarcane biopolymer to the pre-eminent music festival for people who don't like music.

Seeing that damaging levels of MDMA were found in the Whitelake River that runs through the site in 2021, it might be good if all that wee could be shipped off and used productively. Britain's waterways have suffered enough.

Peequal intends to collect and deliver revelers' output to fellow Bristol biz NPK Recovery, which processes urine "into a safe and nutrient-rich alternative fertilizer ... for use on crops."

"In the UK, our agricultural industry consumes 2.4 million tonnes of fertilizer every year to grow our food. Fertilizer contains nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) – elements also present in urine," the startup says.

NPK has developed a process by which these key nutrients can be recovered and used. With help from the University of the West of England, the peepee will be profiled and treated to grow crops in the company's greenhouse.

This is by no means a new idea. In fact, the green-fingered among us may be aware that humans have used urine to fertilize crops since the dawn of agriculture – it's just that with the advent of modern sewage systems, all that good stuff is washed to a less optimal place. It is also nice that not everywhere smells like Paris.

The chemical content of festivalgoers' leaks could pose a challenge, however. "This is an absolutely critical step for us," NPK founder Hannah Van Den Bergh told The Times. "We're almost using Glastonbury as a kind of 'worst case scenario' urine. If we can clean that, then we can basically accept anything to go through our system."

Glastonbury Festival said: "We're always excited to work with innovative companies looking at ways to turn waste materials into something new, and hope Peequal's trials continue to progress well."

This is not an exaggeration. The hippy-dippy event has form for repurposing human waste. In 2019, a 40-person urinal was situated near the headlining Pyramid Stage. The pee was passed through microbial fuel cells housing bacteria that eat it and generate energy as a by-product. This was then used to power the main stage's screens. "Pee Power" has also been used to run mobile phone chargers and information screens since 2015.

At a time when synthetic fertilizer prices are rocketing, a method to reliably produce an eco-friendly alternative at scale is to be welcomed – and where better to get it than from the myriad festivals happening across the world every summer? ®

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