“People urinating on the streets of France is a serious problem,” inventor Victor Massip tells The Local.
“And we knew there was a big demand for a solution, so we've come up with one.”
Massip and his business partner Laurent Lebot came up with the “Uritrottoir” (a mix of the French words for urinal and pavement), which they believe solves a problem so common in France that the French even have a term for it, “pipi sauvage” (or “wild peeing” in English).
Basically, the new idea sees people urinating into the front of a cubic-shaped contraption (see below) similarly to how they'd use a urinal. The urine then collects together with hay in the lower half, which acts as a compost for the flowers growing above. The compost can later be removed for further use, and the hay can be replaced.
The box is coated with an anti-graffiti paint, and the carbon-rich straw not only makes for great compost, but also means the toilet will be largely odour-free.
The team had experimented with the idea before for a festival in western France's Clisson, which saw festival-goers given the option of peeing into urinals that were connected directly to hay bales.
“We've adapted our previous idea so it's suitable for the streets,” Massip said.
He said the Uritrottoir means people can save in toilet fees, and would create jobs for cleaners and city workers considering the hay needs to be replaced every now and again.
And at just €500 to €600 per box, the idea is much cheaper for authorities than the current public toilet options around France, they argue.
Massip said the design has prompted a strong reaction since it featured in the local press in his local Nantes, in the north west of France.
“People are laughing, many of them are amazed, but most agree that it's a good idea to test out,” he told The Local.
He added that representatives from the City Hall of Paris have even been in touch, and he has been invited to give a demonstration for them next week.
If this means the end of wild peeing in Paris, then he's going to have a lot of fans in the capital.
Now, to fix the dog poo problem…