Bill Gates, on China trip, lauds free trade-and futuristic toilets

Cornelia Mascio
Novembre 7, 2018

Microsoft founder Bill Gates has unveiled a futuristic toilet that doesn't need water and uses chemicals to turn human waste into fertiliser.

"You might guess what's in this beaker - and you'd be right".

Thus the Microsoft founder was in the Chinese capital to launch the three-day "Reinvented Toilet Expo", which showcased new dunny tech meant to stop disease spreading.

The toilet, which Gates said was ready for sale after years of development, is the brainchild of research projects funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Gates, who was accompanied by a jar of human feces during his expo speech, shared that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will invest an additional $200 million to help decrease the costs of new sanitation goods for the poor and establish new market development in regions where anti-pathogen products are most needed.

Which might sound odd until you hear that poor sanitation kills half a million children under the age of five annually and costs the globe over $200 billion a year in healthcare costs and lost income, according to the foundation.

Gates left the feces on display for about 10 minutes before removing it, his point made.

The Foundation is already testing a number of these "reinvented toilets" in Durban, South Africa. "In places without safe sanitation, there is much more than one [jar's] worth in the environment". Gates' foundation has awarded researchers grants to develop a khazi that can operate without sewers or electricity, remove harmful bacteria from human waste, and costs less than $0.05 cents per user per day. "I am optimistic that eventually, we will find approaches that make great sanitation available to everyone".

Teams of scientists around the world came together at the event to show off a range of the first commercially available, pathogen-killing, reinvented toilets and small-scale waste treatment plants, called omni-processors, that can process the poop without sewers or water lines. More than half of the world's population live without access to safely managed sanitation and over 1 billion people still defecate in the open without a toilet. Additionally, poor sanitation cost the world almost $223 billion in 2015, according to a study by Oxford Economics and Japanese toilet maker Lixil.

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