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You can now watch the Asian elephant on a bench made of elephant dung

By: Anne Roos van Wijngaarden
300 kilos of elephant dung, what do you do with it? Throw away or compost, you would say. Artis already did the latter and there were still kilos left. That's why they came up with a fresher idea: let's turn them into benches. In solid form, the faeces do well as a building material.
The prototype in use consists of 65 percent elephant dung and 35 percent recycled plastic. If this example performs well, many more will follow. Artis reports this in a press release.

The zoo's management team got the idea from five students from the AMS Institute (Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions). The engineers, designers and researchers of this Amsterdam research institute focus on sustainable solutions in cities. This specific find was developed in Artis itself, in the 'living lab'.

Heating and hardening
Herbivore excrement is an excellent circular raw material due to its nutritious core. Plants are difficult to digest, so elephant dung contains a lot of undigested nutrients. As a result, you can turn it into a high-quality raw material.

The researchers first heated the manure in a normal microwave oven. That dried substance then went into a heat press. With the help of waste processing company Circulus, the 'material' that remained was mixed with recycled plastic and processed into a bench in that state.
Plan for the entire lifecycle
Responsibility for the further life cycle of the product also lies with Circulus. If certain parts of the bench become damaged, the company ensures that they are replaced or broken down into a raw material that can be used again.

That makes Artis' new bench a good example of a circular design. In addition, the producer is encouraged to make sustainable choices in terms of material and how to assemble his product. In this way, valuable raw materials can be easily recovered after use.

Not new, but useful
The idea of ​​using feces for furniture is not new. For example, there are already stools and planters made from cow dung and binding material. That mixture can be poured into any desired shape using a mold. You can also mix cow dung with clay to create designer tableware, discovered label Merdacotta.

The Artis bench story is therefore more about the creative and local solution of a problem than about developing a new biomaterial. Every day, 300 kilos of faeces are scooped out of the outdoor enclosure of the Asian elephants in Artis. Part of this is converted into 'bokashi', a fermented mixture of manure, plant material and other micro-organisms, which is used as a soil improver. Another part ends up as compost at nearby farmers and the remainder, so visitors will soon be able to sit on it.
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  • Tabitha Kimani

    68 w

    Amazing creativity.

    2
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