New and Improved Bonzode

One of SOIL’s team members rocking protective equipment to keep dust out of his eyes while hard at work with our new bonzodè grinder!

In Haitian Creole the word bonzodè means “good smell,” and that’s just what it does! What is it? Bonzodè is the cover material used as the “flush” in SOIL’s water-free household toilets. When a family on SOIL’s sanitation services uses their in-home toilet, they add a handful of bonzodè and it works its magic to prevent flies, ensure good smells, and aid in the composting process once waste makes its way to our treatment facility. Our bonzodè is made from materials once seen as waste and is a key ingredient in SOIL’s full-cycle waste-to-resource sanitation solution.

SOIL’s EkoLakay team in northern Haiti recently completed an analysis of the new production process of our bonzodè. Historically, SOIL has used a blend of sugar cane husk and peanut shells as the carbon cover material, but – especially as many local sugar and rum companies start to use the byproduct to power their operations – the supply is ultimately limited.

Keeping this in mind as we work to increase efficiency and prepare for growth, our team in Cap-Haitïen started crunching numbers. Our goal was to analyze the cost of our current production process as a baseline to help compare changes in costs with our newly purchased grinder. The results are in and there were some interesting findings that have already begun to guide SOIL’s team as we improve bonzodè quality and production procedures.

Integrating Compost

Due to the limited stock from our primary sugar cane supplier, it was important for SOIL to find another option, and that is what led us to compost. Our team found that incorporating SOIL compost to our bonzodè even further improves the odor and ability of the material to fully cover the waste compared to our previous blend. After testing various ratios, we found the perfect blend for the new mix: 80% sugar cane husk and 20% compost.

Finer bonzodè cover material produced with SOIL’s new grinder.

A Finer Grind

It turns out that the new production process of mixing the bonzodè and filling containers that will go to family’s homes during SOIL’s weekly collection services is just as efficient as the old process. Before the grinder, the process required a significant amount of time to remove large pieces of husk by hand. The new grinder removes that step and ultimately provides a better, more finely ground end product.

Experimenting with New Cover Materials

We aren’t stopping there! The new grinder has also allowed SOIL to experiment with other types of agricultural byproducts for possible new cover material ingredients. One material we’ve looked at was sisal, from agave, however, without this grinder the fibers were too long for bonzodè. Might it be now? We’ll continue to test and try out new cover materials to find the best compliment to sugar cane and SOIL’s compost to diversify our supply chain. This will ensure that SOIL is well-prepared if there is ever a shortage in the supply of sugar cane husk available in the country.

Now that we’ve launched the new production process, we’re currently collecting and tracking feedback from families who are a part of our sanitation service. We’re looking forward to telling you what we hear!

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Photo credit: Vic Hinterlang

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