«You have to work together to design the best solutions».

Bringing about a new way of thinking about the way we deal with wastewater by implementing circular wastewater solutions in Switzerland – that’s what VaLoo is looking to accomplish. To make this possible, the association brings together stakeholders from various sectors to work together on the water and nutrient cycles of tomorrow. We asked Louise Carpentier, Managing Director of VaLoo, why the time is ripe for change and what the most important advice on how to implement innovations is.   

Louise, what made you decide to join VaLoo?
Louise Carpentier: The issues of clean water, sustainable agriculture and closed-loop concepts have been on my mind for a long time. At some point I realised how much drinking water we pollute every day as we flush away valuable and recyclable nutrients. I wanted to do something about this problem. Systems of centralised sewers and wastewater treatment plants have brought us many benefits, not least in terms of public health. However, this method of sanitation – as well as our current approach to agriculture – is now facing many challenges. Resource-oriented sanitation systems offer the opportunity to combine these two areas and overcome challenges.

What is your greatest hope for the project?
Louise Carpentier: We are in a critical situation today: Periods of drought are getting longer, and the fertiliser market is frequently experiencing bottlenecks. These factors give me hope that the authorities, builders and farmers will now be open to new solutions. Some stakeholders who we initially thought might be critical of the issue are actually open to alternative approaches. That really motivates me. However, we have also set ourselves big goals for this project, and I hope that changes can be initiated in the course of the project so that implementation can be scaled up. 

(Photo: Benjamin Thomann)

«We are in a critical situation: periods of drought are getting longer, and the fertiliser market is frequently experiencing bottlenecks. This gives me hope that the authorities, builders and farmers will now be open to new solutions».

Louise Carpentier

VaLoo Managing Director

What’s the best thing about being involved in a pioneering project?
Louise Carpentier: Every pioneering project is different, of course. As a network, we seek to consolidate the knowledge and learning of all the members. I find it exciting that it’s the first time that any of this has been done. You can be creative, but it also takes a good deal of courage.

What’s the best advice you have ever received, and who gave it to you?
Louise Carpentier: A good friend once said to me: The other experts, as well as the authorities and politicians, also don’t have any ready-made answers or solutions. You have to work together to design the best solutions. This insight spurred me to reach out to other people.

What podcast would recommend to other pioneers?
Louise Carpentier: I’m a fan of the podcasts of the Dutch journalism platform “De 
Correspondent”. I like the “Rudy and Freddy Show”, for example, because I feel like I’m in on the conversation. Unfortunately, it is in Dutch – if other pioneers know of good alternatives, I would be happy to hear from them.

Many thanks for the interview, Louise!


Louise in a pilot trial of composting contents from dry toilets.

About VaLoo

VaLoo wants to smooth the way for the circular nutrient economy. Enabled by the Migros Pioneer Fund, the project is triggering a paradigm shift in the way sewage is dealt with – for circular and resource-oriented sewage management in Switzerland.

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