I came accross this headline: Singapore firm eyes profit in cheap toilet market. The idea is to produce cheap state-of-the-art fertilizer-making toilets which can be supplied to the world's poorest for only $30, thereby improving world sanitation and a global health problem. According to the article, there is a market of around 2.5 billion people who lack functioning toilets and must resort to using the big outdoors to do their stuff. I hope this innovative Singapore firm has enough production capacity to supply this enormous market.
The interesting environmental aspect of these cheapo loos is the fact that they separate solid and liquid waste, thereby enabling the solid waste to be used for fertilizer. Just imagine millions of tons of potatoes, wheat, corn, rice and beans fertilised using human excrement. Actually, this is not new. Biosolids has been a subject of contention for some time, as shown in this article written way back in 2000, which points to the dangers of using human waste as fertilizer.
Now, this got me thinking about this Singapore firm's next Sustainability Report. The CEO would probably open with something like this:
We are committed to a sustainable planet and protecting our environment whilst making use of natural bodily functions. 2010 has been another successul year in low-cost toilet production. We have reclaimed 21,000 square kilometers of the Singapore Strait and turned it into a major toilet plant, employing some 18,000 workers. Fortunately, we did not need to install bathrooms as the quality inspection checks can be performed by workers from the different production lines, whenever they feel a biological need. Not only this, the waste produced during these quality inspection checks is used to fertilize our own vegetable garden, thereby producing a renewable source of organic food for the workers to eat during their lunchbreaks. In this way, we have developed the first closed loop production system where not an ounce of waste is unexploited. Sales of our toilets has gone well in underdeveloped countries who now can supply plantations and agricultural farms with no-cost fertilizer. This has resulted in higher crap productivity and higher crop productivity, as everyone wants a piece of this sustainable action. In addition, we have developed an Employee Volunteer program whereby our employees demonstrate using our products in low-income communities whose populations are experiencing a change in personal hygiene habits for the first time. This has been very successful, with some employees being called back to demonstrate again and again. The outcome of our efforts to date has been a significant improvement in world health, global sanitation, and major advancements in toddler toilet-training, which now begins at the age of 3 months. In fact, our product innovation pipeline contains a toddler toilet for low-concentration fertilizer production. Our most significant material issue has now become maintaining a steady supply of food to provide input for the people who need to maintain a steady supply of output .
elaine cohen is the CEO of Beyond Business, a leading social and environmental consulting and reporting fitm. Visit our website at www.b-yond.biz/en