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Bill Gates Uses Jar Of Poop To Spread Message Of Life-Saving Toilet Tech

Bill Gates wants a new toilet – and to prove it he appeared on stage at the Reinvented Toilet Expo in Beijing alongside a jar of poop.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has dedicated $200 million over seven years to sanitation research, and the Toilet Expo is where researchers working on better ways to process human excrement are gathering.

According to the Foundation, half the world’s population uses unsafe sanitation facilities, and fixing that could save $233 billion and 500,000 lives annually.

That 500,000 figure is the number of children who die annually because of water contaminated with human waste that hasn’t been processed properly. The $233 billion in savings comes from reduced costs associated with disease. It makes commercial sense too: according to the World Health Organization, a dollar invested in sanitation yields a return on investment of $5.50 in global economic returns.

The 20 cutting-edge toilets on display in Beijing are intended to provide efficient and cost-effective alternatives to sewer systems. In many cities, sewers haven’t been built, and Gates expects they never will be. So these toilets internalize the sewage treatment process and turn human waste into drinking water, agricultural fertilizer, or even energy—one proposed design turns human waste into hydrogen and then stores it in hydrogen fuel cells.
The Gates Foundation hopes to instal reinvented toilets in schools and apartment buildings until they become cheap enough for individual families to afford.