Sanitation & Water


1. Overview and problem statement

Did you know…?

Europe imports nearly 100% of the required phosphorus to manufacture fertilizers for agriculture? 45 At the same time, each person must absorb and excrete several 100 milligrams of phosphorus every day 46. Thus, our urine contains a valuable raw material.

In the event industry, especially in the context of outdoor festivals, sanitation presents an enormous logistical expenditure. On the other hand, handling sanitation facilities and the nutrients they produce is a low-threshold and major factor contributing to a resource-positive circular economy.

Each type of toilet (whether mobile toilets, vacuum toilets, compost toilets, water rinsed toilets or urinals) offers the opportunity to recover phosphorus and other environmental nutrients and keep them in circulation.

Water is already a scarce resource for which there are distribution battles worldwide and is increasingly rationed even in Europe.47 At events, water is used to flush toilets, wash hands, prepare food and take showers, among other things, and usually flows off as waste water. So far, no recirculation practices have been implemented. This can change by making black or gray water usable again through the right infrastructure and treatment and by using rainwater instead of tap water.

2. Our Benchmark for Tempelhof Lab

We set various targets for water usage and recovering resources from solid and fluid toilet waste:

  • Consider all toilets as a source of environmental nutrients and determine how and with which service provider, solid and fluid can be recovered, separated, and processed for reuse as fertilizer.
  • Drive structural change by supporting and implementing pilot projects for the processing of accumulated nutrients and their further use.
  • Use water instead of consuming it. Treat accrued graywater from sanitation and food service operations and make it available for further use onsite.
  • Set communication incentives. Inform the public about nutrient cycles in sanitation and reduce fear of contact with new types of toilets such as composting toilets through gamification elements.
  • Offer educational info on how to manage nutrients and resources and how to process liquid and solid materials onsite.
  • Think about social sustainability and diversity. Offer separate urinals for FLINTA*.

3. What worked well, what can be improved?

Various measures were taken at Tempelhof Lab, to align water and sanitation practices as much as possible with a Cradle to Cradle circular economy.


What worked well?

  • We recovered 80% of all solid and fluid toilet waste for reuse.
  • Onsite 30% of the toilets were compost toilets. In cooperation with Finzio, the fluid and solid waste was collected and as part of a research project is prepared to become liquid phosphorus – fertilizer and hummus.
  • A total of 10.5 m³ of solids and 115 m³ of urine were collected in the composting toilets and urinals. This resulted in almost 30,000 liters of liquid fertilizer and 8,000 kilograms of hummus fertilizer.
  • Onsite 50% of toilets were mobile toilets, in which a biodegradable fluid additive was used instead of conventionally dangerous chemicals. We made sure that the toilets were emptied into the Berlin Waßmannsdorf wastewater treatment plant. This is the only sewage treatment plant in Berlin where phosphorus can already be recovered from sewage sludge. A total of 146,250 liters were fed into the treatment plant from the portable toilets
  • Educational project “P-Bank”. A mobile water flushing toilet, which explains phosphorus recycling.

What can be improved?

  • 100 % recycling of all toilet nutrients. Not only for composting toilets and portable toilets, but also for water-flushed portable toilets and all urinals.
  • Even better communication with the audience, including explanation of the concept and use of composting toilets.
  • FLINTA* urinals were not used for various reasons: They are unfortunately still very expensive and were rejected by the public at previous events.


What worked well?

  • Savings of 99 million liters of water. The supply chains of products and services were included in this calculation. A large part of the savings compared to a conventional concert can be attributed to the predominantly vegan/vegetarian food menu.
  • Free drinking water for the audience and production crews at six water stations.
  • Pilot project: osmosis filter at the hand-washing station of a water-flushed toilet container to treat the gray water produced there and reuse it for toilet flushing.
  • Provision of reusable bottles for bands and tour crew and water dispensers in the backstage area.

What can be improved?

  • Osmosis filter was installed only on one flushing toilet container as a pilot project. The goal was to reuse gray water throughout the venue, including the catering areas. 800 liters of gray water from the handwash basin of the container were accumulated in the tank which contained the osmosis filter; 850 liters would have been necessary to activate the filter.
  • Provision of a tap water bar with reusable cups throughout the production area. Was only implemented in tour catering for approx. 80 people due to hygiene concerns and infrastructural challenges.


What worked well?

  • Toilet container equipped with C2C-certified toilet paper, hand towels, and recyclable hand towels and soap dispensers.
  • Recycled toilet paper in the compost toilets.
  • Use of C2C-certified cleaning products in the airport buildings.
  • The urinals and folding composting toilets required less load capacity than toilet containers and portable toilets, thus saving on transport emissions.

What can be improved?

  • The target was to cover a certain proportion of water consumption for restroom cleaning and catering with rain water. However, it was not possible, because the collected rain water at Tempelhof Field flowed over different surfaces without a filtration system, i.e. it contained partially toxic residual material from old pipes and surfaces.

4. Findings and Recommendations


  • Compost toilets are a very good alternative to water flushed or mobile toilets and enable easy waste collection and separation.
    • The ability to offer compost toilets or even FLINTA* – urinals is still limited today. Therefore, they should be procured well in advance- especially for big events.
    • Compost toilets are not yet ubiquitous. They require corresponding communication, clarification and instruction about the concept and use.
  • The EUs fertilizer ordinance currently in effect only permits fertilizers from human feces to be used for research projects in the agricultural sector. Risk Studies show that with proper handling, use of such fertilizers is not dangerous for humans and the environment.
    • Cooperation of event organizers with such demonstration projects can draw further attention to how toilet waste can be reused to nourish soil for agriculture. Further positive research results increase the pressure on policymakers to change the law.
  • Portable chemical toilets have a bad reputation in terms of their environmental performance. But they can also help to close nutrient cycles.
    • Mobile chemical toilets can also do without chemical additives if necessary, depending on the period of use. For example, during short events.
    • If chemical additives are needed, use biodegradable options.
    • Contents of chemical toilets can be diverted to wastewater treatment plants that already recover phosphorus from sewage sludge.
  • Phosphorus recovery is especially effective if urine is collected separately- for example in urinals or in compost toilets where there are separate receptacles for feces and urine.
    • Today the focus of urinal provision lies on cis men. Thus the opportunity to collect the urine of FLINTA* persons and reuse of the resulting phosphorus resources is being wasted.
    • FLINTA* urinals are still relatively unknown. The easier and more comfortable they are to use, the greater their acceptance and increased use by the public. Good communication and usage instructions can ensure this.


  • The osmosis filter unfortunately could not be used due to a low quantity of flowing water.
    • Osmosis is only effective, if it is used venue-wide and the water inflow is controlled, that for each filter a sufficient quantity of water is guaranteed (in our case 850 liter water).
    • Especially for recurring events in fixed locations, the required quantities of venue-wide use can be achieved. The investment pays off because, for example, less fresh water is used for toilet flushing.
  • Free drinking water stations work well and the public is grateful for them.
    • A venue-wide drinking water supply, including for the entire production area, must be planned way in advance.
    • It must be ensured that the available tap water can be used as drinking water and that a corresponding infrastructure is present or installed for distribution throughout the venue.
    • If drinking water stations can be offered for the entire production area, it should be accompanied with the request for workers to bring their own reusable drinking cup. Alternatively, a reusable cup can be offered by the organizers. In the latter case, a rinsing system must be provided.
  • Rain water is free and is a good way to lower the use of freshwater.
    • The biggest challenge is in ensuring the infrastructure to collect, process, distribute and further recycle the water.
    • Depending on the level of contamination of the rain water (and the collection point) a cleaning system is needed, for example an osmosis filter.
    • Especially in case of recurring events and fixed locations, the investment pays off with one such system, because less fresh water is needed overall.
    • In order to lower water usage, a jet spray feature on taps and shower heads as well as stop button in case of toilet flushing is sensible.


  • Today, water scarcity is a familiar topic amongst large parts of the population. It’s a different story when it comes to recycling residual waste from toilets.
    • Both topics can be easily communicated through gamification elements or playful formats such as quizzes. When the audience is actively involved, they engage more deeply with a topic. At Tempelhof Lab, these formats were very well received.
  • For safety reasons, we refrained from allowing the audience to bring refillable bottles (except 0.5 liter PET bottles without lids). However, this should definitely be considered, especially at smaller events, in order to reduce the amount of waste on site and still provide the opportunity to fill drinking water.
    • Especially for smaller events, this measure should be seriously considered to lower the garbage onsite and still offer free drinking water.

6. Further inspiration from the industry

Other events and festivals also focus on sustainable sanitation and water practices:

The sustainability concept of Boom Festival (capacity 40,000) from Portugal consists of 12 categories, for which a large focus is on water (scarcity) and sanitation. The festival invested in two permanently installed biological water treatment plants, one of which can filter up to 7 million liters of water. All toilets are waterless and the gray water produced in hand basins and showers is treated. The compost from the toilets (which a local university rated A++ and so it could be used for organic farming) is used to fertilize the adjacent land. The showers and water stations are only available during certain hours with low water pressure.

Plant A Seeed – a scientific community project by The Changency and Technische Universität Berlin at 5 sold-out concerts of the band Seeed in Berlin’s Wuhlheide (capacity: 17,000) used a water bar from Water Is Right, which saved 2,800 plastic bottles over 5 days in the production area alone.

The audience of the Danish Rosklide Festival (capacity: 130,000) helped produced the main ingredient of their “Pisner Beer” themselves. Urine was collected at the festival and used to produce fertilizer. This was used to fertilize the barley that was used to brew the beer for the festival.48

H.I.T. fertilizer

Humus fertilizer from the contents of dry toilets.


Liquid fertilizer containing the nutrients nitrogen (N), phosphate (P) and potassium (K).

900 tons of CO₂ emissions

This is equivalent to either 900 flights from Frankfurt to New York or 297,000 kilometers of driving in a petrol car.


Device in which CO₂ is ejected into the air, creating a white mist.

C2C quality

C2C textiles are fully recyclable and material healthy. The fabric itself is recyclable and the fibers washed out during the laundering process are harmless to the environment. In addition to the fabric, dyes, ink and process chemicals used in production are also optimized for material health. Social standards are met during production and renewable energy is used.

Textiles in Cradle to Cradle quality

C2C textiles are fully recyclable and material healthy. The fabric itself is recyclable and the fibers washed out during the laundering process are harmless to the environment. In addition to the fabric, dyes, ink and process chemicals used in production are also optimized for material health. Social standards are met during production and renewable energy is used.

Textile materials

A large proportion of all clothing manufactured and sold today is made of synthetic fibers. Polyester alone has a market share of around 50%. Textiles made from natural fibers, i.e. fibers from renewable raw materials, are usually dyed or printed with environmentally harmful dyes. In addition, chemical substances are used in the production process, for example to fix the dyes. These chemicals do not only endanger the environment but also the health of the people who work in the production process and who wear the garments. Thus, whether a garment is truly sustainable depends not only on the fabric, but also on all the other materials used. Because with every laundry cycle, the garment automatically loses thousands of microfibers, which then end up in the waterways. And that’s exactly what these fibers have to be designed for. In other words, regardless of whether the fabric is made synthetically or from natural fibers, only materials that are appropriate for us humans to come into contact with during production and wear and that are biodegradable when they end up in the environment as washed-out fibers should be used in textile production. C2C textiles are designed according to this principle.

recover phosphorus

Starting in 2029, wastewater treatment plants in Germany – depending on the size of the community served – will be required to recover phosphorus from wastewater, sewage sludge, or sewage sludge ash.

C2C certification

Certification according to the Cradle to Cradle criteria is carried out by the Products Innovation Institute (PII), which is based in San Francisco and Amsterdam. The organization certifies products based on five criteria, in each of which four different levels can be achieved. The PII and Cradle to Cradle NGO are independent organizations.

Osmosis filter

In the osmosis filter system, gray water is first purified on a biological basis, then pressed through a bio-membrane filter, which almost completely eliminates solids, viruses and bacteria from the water. The final step is ultrafiltration, which ensures almost 100% sterility.

>> Further information on the osmosis filter

Black water and gray water

Black water and gray water are different categories of wastewater. Black water is water contaminated with fecal matter. Gray water is water that is slightly polluted and free of fecal matter, such as rainwater or wastewater from hand-washing sinks.

Euro standard

As the European exhaust emission standard, the Euro standard sets limits for the emission of air pollutants. They are defined in Europe by the EU. Compliance is measured and checked in the laboratory when new vehicles are type-approved and, in the case of trucks and buses, also in real-world operation. Euro 6d has been the strictest standard for passenger cars since January 2021, and Euro VI for trucks (over 3.5 tons). While the emissions standard sets limits for carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate mass and number, it says nothing about a vehicle’s CO2 emissions. These are defined for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles in a separate EU regulation.

Easy langage

Leichte Sprache (easy language) is a simpler and less complex form of everyday German. It is aimed at people who find it difficult to read or understand a text in everyday language. In texts in easy language, for example, there are no foreign words or abbreviations. The set of rules is published by the Netzwerk Leichte Sprache. It is comparable to Easy Read in English.


Plasticizers are added to plastics, coatings, adhesives and textiles to make brittle materials soft and supple. Many of the substances used as plasticizers are considered to be harmful to the environment and human health. In addition to plasticizers, packaging can also contain other harmful substances that may be used up to certain permitted limits but still reduce the recyclability of the material.


PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is a plastic polymer and is produced as rigid PVC (drain pipes, window profiles, etc.) as well as soft PVC. Soft PVC is used for floor coverings, films, children’s toys, hoses, cable sheathing, seals, etc. and consists of up to 40% plasticizers, some of which are harmful, especially as they are released to humans and the environment during production and use of the products. Due to the many additives, PVC is hardly recyclable and is usually incinerated (thermal recycling), which produces toxic dioxins.


Canceling (cancel culture) refers to the exclusion of individuals or organizations that are accused of offensive, discriminatory or racist statements or actions, among other things. The term is also used by people who are accused of this behavior. The term and the actions behind it are the subject of much public debate, see here and here.

Sir David Attenborough

Sir David Attenborough is a British naturalist, writer and wildlife filmmaker best known for his award-winning nature documentaries.

Social ticketing

Offering different price categories for an event, adapted to the respective financial circumstances.


FLINTA* stands for Female, Lesbian, Intersex, Trans and Agender. It stands for anyone who is not a cis man. Cis or cisgender is the opposite of transgender. The asterisk includes all non-binary gender identities as a placeholder.

Which way to Panama?

The concept with the code question “Which way to Panama” was introduced in 2017 by the concert organizer FKP Scorpio. The aim is to be able to offer visitors simple and uncomplicated help in any emergency situation by naming this code sentence.

Initiative Barrierefrei Feiern

Nationwide collective (in German) of people with disabilities and their allies advocating for accessible cultural opportunities


Awareness means being aware of problems and conflicts. Awareness concepts create safe spaces in which all people can feel comfortable because no assault or discriminatory behavior is tolerated. The definition of what is assaultive or discriminatory for a person or a group is not questioned.


Social inclusion means the accentuation, inclusion and equal participation of all people in a society.

Waste separation

Proper waste separation is not that simple. Even in Germany, where there is a comparatively extensive separation system. For example, a pizza box is made of cardboard, and therefore paper. But soiled by grease and pizza remnants, it still doesn’t belong in the waste paper bin, but in the residual waste bin.

At the Tempelhof laboratory, we have set up two residual waste garbage cans at each of the nutrient islands, a bio garbage can for leftovers/food waste and another bio garbage can for the biodegradable tabelware. In addition, a garbage bag was hung up for the collection of PET bottles, which the public was allowed to bring onto the grounds.
The background of this composition, which is quite different from the system known from everyday life in Germany: The disposable tableware was to be composted in a separate field trial, because industrial composting facilities are set in specific temperatures and composting cycles to ensure that food and food residues can be composted without residue. However, these cycles do usually not composte biodegradable tableware items. This does not mean that this tableware is not compostable – the ZirkulierBar research project has already demonstrated this by adding shredded biodegradable disposable tableware to the humus composting process. But composting takes place at a different temperature and for a different composting time than, for example, vegetable peelings, for which the cycles of industrial composting plants are designed.

Planetary Boundaries

Planetary boundaries define the safe operating framework for humanity. If these ecological limits are overstepped, our natural ecosystems collapse and the existence of humankind is endangered. The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research has defined nine such boundaries, six of which have been considered exceeded since 2022.


This means that the cultivation of a plant has an overall positive impact. A plant from regenerative agriculture has been grown in such a way that the cultivation increases the nutrient content in the soil, the biodiversity in the cultivation area or the quality of the water in the region. The cultivation of the plant therefore has a positive impact on all the resources that are needed in the cultivation process.

Real costs

Real costs can be shown when the so-called external effects arising from the production or consumption of a product are included in the price. These are usually negative externalities, for example environmental damages or health damages caused by the production or consumption of a certain product. Usually, these costs are not covered by the pollutur, but by society. As a result, there are differences between private returns of economic activities and the returns or costs to society as a whole. In this specific example of food at events, the real costs of a dish can be calculated by measuring the resource consumption and CO₂ footprint incurred in the production of a certain dish, quantifying it and adding it to the price. Calculating real prices would make many products that are harmful to health and the environment significantly more expensive than before, and generally more expensive than sustainable or C2C products.

Cradle Village

The Cradle Village was an area equipped with pavilions between the entrance and the stage. It was part of the educational concept around circularity and C2C onsite. Various NGOs were represented there as well as some C2C cases exhibited as educational projects.

Regenerative agriculture

Regenerative agriculture is an agricultural approach that focuses on soil and plant health. The goal is to build healthy, fertile soil through agricultural cultivation, thereby increasing yields while creating positive impacts on carbon and water cycles as well as biodiversity. The approach contrasts with conventional agriculture, in which the use of pesticides, heavy agricultural machinery and monocultures, among other things, reduces biodiversity and causes lasting damage to soils. Regenerative agriculture can complement organic agriculture, which avoids the use of hazardous substances but is often associated with lower yields than conventional agriculture.


Biofuels are fuels obtained from biomass. The environmental friendliness of these also depends on whether their raw materials are in competition with the food production industry (for example, corn) or whether the fuels are obtained from residual materials.

Smart grids

In smart grids, power load management improves the utilization of the existing infrastructure and thus makes more efficient use of energy.

Peak Shaving

Peak shaving can be used to stabilize the power generated by energy networks. Periods in which a particularly large amount of power is available (power peaks) are capped.

Green hydrogen

Green hydrogen fuel uses renewable energy instead of conventional energy for the electrolysis to produce hydrogen. Its production makes sense in regions where sufficient renewable energy sources in the form of sun or wind are available to power water electrolysis.

Battery Regulation

Among other things, this regulation is intended to make a battery pass mandatory in order to provide incentives for recyclable battery design and the recycling of battery components.

Authentic green electricity

Authentic green electricity means that the supplier invests part of the revenue from the sale of green electricity in the development of new plants for the generation of electricity from renewable sources. In this way, the provider helps to ensure that the electricity mix improves in the long term and the share of renewable energy grows steadily. Im Germany, such providers can be identified by labels such as “ok-power” or “Grüner Strom“.

Cradle to Cradle

Cradle to Cradle (C2C) is an approach to a circular economy that goes a little further. Instead of producing less waste, using fewer resources, causing less environmental damage, or merely aiming for climate neutrality, products and processes are to be designed in such a way that added value is created as a result. In other words, a positive impact on the climate through a new way of handling resources. Because if we only cause less damage through our actions, we only delay the problems we cause, but do not solve them.

We can only solve climate and resource problems permanently by setting positive goals. By consistently integrating our actions into biological cycles and creating technical cycles, we achieve real added value: ecologically, economically and socially. C2C products consist of materials that are healthy for people and the environment and can circulate in biological and technical cycles. If a material in a product is automatically consumed (for example, the abrasion from a tire while driving or fibers from a T-shirt that are washed out in the washing machine), then this material must also be suitable for ending up in the environment. It must therefore be completely biodegradable.

All other products must be designed in such a way that all their components and materials can be separated and reused again and again. Either directly, after remanufacturing or repairing, or through a recycling, which preserves the quality of the material. In the production of such C2C products, we use only renewable energy, preserve or improve the quality of water and soil, and have fair and humane working conditions.
Business models such as product service models, beneficial use or leasing help to keep materials and products in the cycle.

>> more information

Circular economy

Derived from the EU Commission’s Circular Economy Action Plan, the term “circular economy” encompasses “all stages of value creation – from product design and production to consumption, repair, waste management and secondary raw materials fed back into the economy.”
The transformation of our current linear economy, (resources are taken from the earth, used and then mostly become worthless waste) to a circular economy is an overarching policy goal in the EU and in all member states – including Germany. The German government is currently (as of June 2023) developing the so-called National Circular Economy Strategy, which aims to reduce the need for newly extracted raw materials. A circular economy and resource conservation are thus intended to contribute to climate neutrality and decarbonization.

In the case of the Tempelhof Lab, we attempted to design as many aspects of the concerts as possible in such a way that resources are kept in circulation or incentives are provided for this. Ideally, this meant using a C2C product or C2C process with a positive impact on people and the environment. Where this was not possible, an alternative was sought that was sustainable in the classic sense, i.e. at least caused less harm than a conventional solution.

CO2 compensation

Organizations that offer compensation for CO2 emissions can be certified according to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) standard. Gold Standard is a standard developed by an alliance of non-governmental organizations such as WWF, which is considered the most demanding standard for voluntary emissions trading.

These contacts are merely a selection, without any claim to completeness. The selection is based on the companies with which the Tempelhof Lab project worked or had contact.

Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO)

Hydrotreated or hydrogenated vegetable oils (HVO) are oils that have been chemically converted into hydrocarbons and can thus be used as fuel. They are used as an addition to or substitute for diesel fuel and emit up to 90% less CO2 compared to diesel. Oil plants, residues from the agricultural industry, but also used cooking oils can be used as raw materials for HVO. If residual or waste materials are used, production does not compete with food production and causes lower CO2 emissions in production. If HVO is produced from palm oil, the greenhouse gas balance deteriorates considerably because rainforests are cleared for the cultivation of oil palms. Therefore, a supplier should be chosen that guarantees the exclusion of primary palm oil as a raw material.


Offsetting CO2 emissions is not a sufficient strategy for achieving the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, and certainly not for taking climate-positive action. The provider atmosfair points out exactly this on its website and thus encourages active action. The climate protection projects supported by atmosfair are for the most part twice certified: Under the standard of the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) and under Gold Standard (standard developed by an alliance of NGOs such as the WWF, which is considered the most demanding standard for voluntary emissions trading). atmosfair is transparent in its use of funds and, according to its own statements, only supports projects that take into account other important aspects of environmental protection in addition to the CO2 aspect.

Tempelhof Lab

The Tempelhof Lab concerts took place under very specific conditions: Tempelhof Airport as an open air location in the middle of Berlin, 60,000 visitors per concert and full support of the bands involved. Solutions that were feasible and sensible in this scenario may not be sensible or possible under other framework conditions. Conversely, some great C2C ideas were not scalable for this size of an event, but work perfectly fine under other framework conditions. Therefore, the goals described in this Guidebook and the measures derived from them are not a universally applicable checklist, but rather highlight opportunities and the right questions to ask for the most climate- and resource-positive event possible.