Bill Gates unveils futuristic toilet during China trip

08 November, 2018, 23:23 | Author: Wade Massey
  • Bill Gates points at a jar containing human feces as he makes a point about the dangers of primitive sanitation

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the world's biggest private philanthropy organization, has committed roughly US$200 million to the toilet project and expects to spend the same amount again before the toilets are viable for wide-scale distribution.

"I never thought I'd know so much about shit", joked the billionaire.

Gates said that the foundation plans to invest an additional 200 million USA dollars into supporting continued R&D efforts that can help bring down the costs of new sanitation products for the poor and bolster development in regions where new, non-sewered sanitation products can have the greatest impact. The event, according to the New York Times, was aimed at allowing brands to "showcase their takes on the simple bathroom fixture".

It is the first time Mr Gates' foundation has addressed an event in China, where President Xi Jinping is promoting a three-year "toilet revolution" to build or upgrade 64,000 public toilets by 2020 to help boost tourism and economic growth.

Twenty of the hi-tech toilets are on show at the expo - all of them taking a different approach to break down human waste and destroy germs, leaving behind clean water or solids that can be used as fertiliser or safely disposed outdoors.

He went on to say that pathogens like these cause diseases that kill almost 500,000 children under the age of 5 every year.

"In rich countries we have sewers that take clean water in, flush some of the dirty water out, in nearly all cases there's a treatment plant", he said.

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"It's no longer a question of if we can reinvent the toilet and other sanitation systems", Gates told the BBC.

"All of them remove the pathogens from the waste and, most importantly, they don't have to be connected to the sewer system", Gates added.

The initial demand for the reinvented toilet will be in places like schools, apartment buildings, and community bathroom facilities.

"The problem will get worse if we don't do something about it", said Mr Gates.

"China has an opportunity to launch a new category of innovated non-sewered sanitation solutions that will benefit millions of people worldwide".

Gates' trip comes amid trade tension between China and the United States, the world's two largest economies, which have slapped tit-for-tat tariffs on goods worth billions of dollars.

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