Economy

Toopi Organics, the French start-up that wants to convert human urine into green manure



What do the urinals in a motorway rest area and a town center pharmacy have in common? The answer is not obvious. Michael Roes, founder of Toopi Organics, likes to have fun when he recounts the discovery and development of his biostimulant based on human urine. He reminds us that there is nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in the urine, essential components of the fertilizers currently used – which are also found in the probiotics sold in pharmacies!

Topi Organics’ innovation lies in the use of this human urine as a growth medium for bacteria. These will then be used to help plants fix nutrients already present in the air (nitrogen) or in the soil (phosphorus and potassium). Decisive positive effect“by a complex but natural process, the presence of bacteria removes the smell of urine which does not degrade into ammonia, which is so unpleasant”, explains the CEO.

Bacteria turn urine into a biostimulant

The idea of ​​working with bacteria came to him from a first unfortunate experience of making plant-based fertilizers. The one who, holder of a baccalaureate in medico-social, was very early passionate about agriculture, knew how to sell his new project to Inra, Ademe or Bordeaux Sciences Agro to succeed in creating “Lactopi Start, the first urino-sourced biostimulant”.

With its twenty employees today, who could be fifty in the coming years, it aims to eventually create around twenty production sites in France. “It makes no sense to transport urine from a collection point to a single large factory. The production must be diffused, as is the resource, namely us, the humans. »

A free resource, abundant but difficult to collect

Collection is a challenge. Since urine is made up of 95% water, the volumes required are significant. Every year, 30 billion liters of “made in France” urine go down the toilet, mixed with drinking water.

The needs of agriculture are only 0.05% of this volume, which can be collected free of charge from festival sites, large industrial or educational sites. The first collection tests on a few motorway rest areas are giving very satisfactory results for an investment of €20,000.

As for processing sites, “The twenty will be distributed throughout the national territory, preferably near metropolitan areas. They could be created with agricultural cooperatives,” says Michael Roes. Thus, not only are the nutrients not derived from highly polluting extractive activities, but in addition they are produced and used locally, the farmers only having to spray the compound of urine and bacteria in the fields or else mixing it with the seeds before sowing, depending on their equipment.

Lactopi Start, which provides phosphorus, is now reserved for farmers. During 2023, packaging will be available in garden centers for amateur gardens.



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