Bill Gates uses poop to show off pioneering toilet
BEIJING As one of the world's richest men and most active philanthropists, Mr Bill Gates usually has his hands full - this time with a jar of poop.
The founder of Microsoft brandished a jar of human waste at a forum on the future of the toilet in Beijing yesterday.
It was an effort to draw attention to a problem affecting developing countries around the world: not enough toilets.
"In places without sanitation you have got way more than that," Mr Gates said, pointing to the faeces inside the clear canister resting on a table.
"That is what kids (are exposed to all the time) when they are out playing. That is why we connect this not just with quality of life, but with disease, death and with malnutrition."
He then introduced a futuristic toilet that does not need water or sewers and uses chemicals to turn human waste into fertiliser. Mr Gates also lauded the globalised and free trade systems that made the toilet technology possible.
"I honestly believe trade allows every country to do what it's best at," he told Reuters in an interview yesterday.
"So when I talk about components of this toilet being made in China, others in Thailand, others in the US - you really want to be bringing together all of that IQ so that you're getting that combination."
The toilet, which is ready for sale, is the brainchild of research projects funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. There are multiple designs but all work by separating liquid and solid waste.
"The current toilet simply sends the waste away in the water, whereas these (new) toilets don't have the sewer. They take both the liquids and solids and do chemical work on it, including burning it in most cases," Mr Gates said.
Poor sanitation kills half a million children under five annually and costs the globe more than US$200 billion (S$275 billion) a year in healthcare and lost income, said the foundation.
It 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.- AFP, REUTERS