Paris is testing urinals in plain sight on the street

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A public urinal called the Uritrottoir in use in France (Courtesy of Faltazi)

In an effort to curb public urination on the city's sidewalks, officials in Paris have begun testing open-air urinals.

"The Uritrottoir has been installed in heavily congested areas where there are many urine spills," the city's website says, translated from French. "The interest of this new urban furniture lies in its mobility, ease of installation and use, as well as in its ecological dimension."

The "ecological dimension" refers to the urinal's incorporation of a flower bed that is fed by compost created with urine collected by the contraption itself. (Although the process of turning pee into plant feed takes a year.)

"Straw and urine are then collected and composted, allowing the recovery of naturally occurring nitrogen and phosphate in large amounts in the urine," the city website says. "Ultimately, this device allows the urine to return to fertilize the plants."

The city installed five urinals this year after they were first tested in Nantes, a city in northwestern France.

A design firm called Faltazi created several versions of the urinal to suit different placement needs. The firm says the device is easy to install and manage because it isn't connected to the water and sewer systems. Instead, a sensor notifies someone that the compost bin needs to be changed.

"The compost bin is then transported to a composting area before being integrated a few months later as a horticultural amendment," Faltazi says on the product's website.

Although the city's use of the urinals could be a creative solution to a smelly and unpleasant urban problem, some opposition is out there, of course.

An official with the French feminist group known as Femmes Solidaires told the Guardian that the installation of the urinals is based on the sexist notion that "men cannot control themselves" so then "society has to adapt."

But Faltazi counters the notion that only men can use the urinals. Its website says women can relieve themselves in the Uritrottoir if they can learn the "standing [pee]," whatever that means.