News Analysis

New Type of Waterless Urinal Cartridge Focus of Lawsuit

A new type of cartridge for waterless urinals uses an elastomeric membrane as a trap and potentially lasts much longer than conventional cartridges. But it has been at the center of a legal settlement in which its manufacturer agreed not to sell it for use with certain urinals.

The selling point of Ecotech’s cartridge is its lifetime warranty, which gives it a projected lifetime far beyond that of Falcon’s cartridges, which need to be replaced every 7,000 uses, according to the company. (Some customers say the cartridges need to be replaced in a fraction of that time.) Unlike the cartridges that require vegetable-oil sealant, the Ecotech cartridge relies on a membrane that opens in response to fluid, letting urine pass through, and then curls closed to block sewer gases from entering the restroom. The seal is made from an elastomer, a rubber that maintains its shape as well as its resiliency. Ecotech sells its own brand of urinal that uses this cartridge, but until recently many of its cartridges were sold as retrofits for Falcon and Sloan waterless urinals (Sloan licenses its technology from Falcon).

Ecotech has been forced to stop selling its retrofit cartridge for use with Falcon and Sloan urinals, however, after Falcon sued Ecotech, and the two parties came to a legal settlement. According to Terry Janssen of Ecotech, Falcon’s lawsuit was a nuisance suit to protect Falcon’s business, which Janssen portrays as being built on selling cheap urinals and expensive replacement cartridges (Falcon sells a single cartridge and sealant together for about $40, compared with Ecotech’s cartridge for $159, or the Waterless Company’s $6.50 cartridge, plus $18 for a quart of BlueSeal). According to Janssen, Falcon customers tell him, “We’re spending more on cartridges than we’re saving on sewer and water.” Ecotech’s cartridge is an antidote to that problem, but not one that Falcon’s business would tolerate, says Janssen.

Published March 31, 2008