Vaporizing, waterless toilets have successfully been invented. Introducing these toilets to areas of extreme poverty across the world could make all the difference in the global sanitation crisis. Currently, it is estimated that 2.6 billion people worldwide don’t have access to toilets and the safe sanitation they provide. This leads to the spreading of dangerous diseases and infections from human waste contamination. Paired with the lack of medical resources in these impoverished regions, people are dying at alarming rates.
This month observes World Toilet Day on November 19th, a day put aside to inspire action to end the global sanitation crisis. Without the access to proper toilets, certain areas are basically being turned into open sewers. Soil, water, and crops are all exposed to the harmful bacteria of human feces.
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 6 originally planned for the availability and sustainability of water sanitation in areas of need by 2030. Sadly, the world is not on track to meet this goal. Global sanitation seems to have taken a backseat to other issues.
The sanitation crisis is one of the largest issues facing developing nations.
Bringing the proper sanitation, plumbing, and sewage systems to the 40% of the population without working toilets was thought to be too tall a task to take on. Now, thanks to the innovation at change:WATER Labs, giving people the gift of proper toilets may be a close reality.
Vaporizing, Waterless Toilets
We’re so used to having running water systems throughout our homes. Flushing a toilet is our first nature, so it’s hard to imagine what a waterless toilet would be like. But that’s exactly what change:WATER Labs did.
After years of research and scientific collaboration, change:WATER Labs have finally released the prototype for their vaporizing toilet. It doesn’t require water, energy, or plumbing to be effective in eliminating waste. Low-cost and compact, it’s the perfect solution for non-sewered households and communities.
These vaporizing, waterless toilets work by attaching a moisture-absorbing polymer bag underneath the lid to catch the waste. Also cleverly known as “shrink wrap for crap,” the polymer bag is able to separate solids from the liquids. After the separation, the bag can successfully evaporate roughly 95% of the waste. Each bag is expected to last roughly 2 weeks before it needs to be emptied and replaced.
The process is not 100% scent-free. But, engineers have installed filtration systems within the vaporizing toilets to absorb some of the odors. Its size, capacity, and ability to work without sewage lines or powers lets these toilets be introduced into rural homes.
These new waterless toilets are self-contained and require no plumbing or electricity.
As of right now, change:WATER Labs is working with a nonprofit to test out the toilets in rural areas where sewage is not available. According to change:WATER Labs, unsewered communities will be able to see a decline in daily sewage volumes of about 85-99%, thanks to the vaporizing toilet.
More Than a Sanitation Issue
The risks of poor sanitation are extremely high in areas without proper sewage, but the exposure to diseases is just the beginning of the frightening possibilities. Women and girls are especially at-risk for serious consequences due to a lack of toilets. Because they don’t have a safe, private place to use the bathroom at schools, as many as 20% of female students dropout.
Women and children’s safety is also compromised when they are forced to use public toilets. Their risks of rape and sexual assault increase by 50% when they don’t have a toilet in their homes to use. Looking for privacy, women and young girls often wait until night time to venture out to the public restrooms, where many different threats are lurking.
Refugees or displaced people also have to suffer without proper toilets. Due to natural disasters, environmental changes, war or famine, these people are forced to move to locations that are sometimes not established. With the compact nature of the vaporizing toilets, sanitation could be moved with the people.
Easy deployment of these waterless toilets will provide safe sanitation for billions without established bathroom facilities.
World Toilet Day may have already passed, but the startling reality of the sanitation epidemic lives on everyday. In the United States, we have so many resources that we take for granted, while thousands of people die from a lack of basic human necessities. But, with the incredible innovation from companies like change:WATER Labs, it could be the beginning of the end of the world sanitation crisis.