DS 123: Proceedings of the International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE 2023)

Year: 2023
Editor: Buck, Lyndon; Grierson, Hilary; Bohemia, Erik
Author: Yeh, Tse-Yen; Shih, Yi-Teng
Series: E&PDE
Institution: The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong
Section: Ethical, social and/or environmental issues in design and engineering, and their education
DOI number: 10.35199/EPDE.2023.32
ISBN: 978-1-912254-19-4


Portable Toilets, also referred to as porta potties, are movable toilets that are often placed outdoors for places with limited toilet access or with crowded areas, such as tourist sites, construction sites, large events, etc. However, as an independent toilet system with a lack of access to running water, hygiene is a significant factor contributing to unwilling usage, to the extent where some would refer to it as the “Portal into the death of hell”. Primary research, in the form of interviews and surveys, were collected over a period of four weeks to gain understanding of Asians (Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China) perspectives towards portable toilets. The results show that over 89% of users avoid usage unless necessary, and over 82% of the users claim unsatisfying experiences due to hygiene concerns, such as physical contact or bad smells. The average rating of the current portable toilet is 1.6/5, where an interviewee exaggeratingly claimed that they developed “PTSD” due to their poor experience in using a portable toilet. Additionally, despite numerous studies highlighting negative user experiences, there is a significant increase in demand for portable toilets globally. One key factor is how the COVID-19 pandemic changed the working environment, habits and behaviors of users, especially towards hygiene-related topics. To clarify, a recent study stated that the global portable toilet market is estimated to increase from $12.61 billion in 2021, to $20.43 billion by 2028 (Market Research Report, 2020). Due to this, it can be initially concluded that the current designs of portable toilets are catered for pre COVID-19 circumstances, hence a lack of design considerations for post pandemic user behaviors. Therefore, with the current portable toilet problems identified and the significant increase in global demands, it provides considerable design opportunities that allows direct tackling of the current issues, further enhancing the user experience. This aim will be achieved through redesigning the interior and exterior features of portable toilets with comprehensive considerations, including manufacture, transportation, cleaning, and most importantly, the usage processes. Reaching the ultimate goal: “Everyone deserves to have a wonderful toilet experience”. As this is a study of design consideration, the goal of this paper is to provide a set of considerations that others can refer to as academic purposes when designing toilet-related products.

Keywords: Portable Toilet, User Experience, Post Pandemic, Innovative Design


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