Future Toilet Turns Human Waste into Fertilizer

Bill Gates unveils lavatory of the future and says he loves 'few things more than toilets'

A new generation of reinvented toilets will become an annual six-billion-dollar global business opportunity by 2030, Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said Tuesday at the Reinvented Toilet Expo in Beijing.

"Today, rich countries have a sewage system where you bring water in, put the human waste in it and it goes out to all the way to a treatment processing plant", Gates told CNN.

Mr Gates used the prop to highlight bacteria and sanitation-related disease, having spent more than $200 million on researching the field over the past seven years.

The Microsoft co-founder and co-chairman of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation made a plea for the safe disposal of human waste during his keynote at the event in Beijing. The event, according to the New York Times, was aimed at allowing brands to "showcase their takes on the simple bathroom fixture".

There are multiple designs of the toilet, but all work by separating liquid and solid waste.

Sanitation technology could save the lives of hundreds of thousands of childrenThomas Peter/ReutersHe declared that "today we are on the cusp of a sanitation revolution" and promised to unveil the most significant advances in the field for nearly 200 years.

The billionaire said more than half of the world's population suffers without clean, comfortable sanitation facilities. "It's a question of how quickly this new category of off-grid solutions will scale".

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This can cause diseases like cholera, diarrhoea and dysentery which kill hundreds of thousands of people every year.

The foundation funded scientists to invent toilets that are self-contained - they take human waste, kill risky pathogens and convert the resulting material into products with potential commercial value, like clean water, electricity and fertilizer.

"As we have these newer cities with lots of less wealthy people in them, those sewers have not been built and in fact, it's not likely they ever will be, so the question is, could you do it?"

"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.

Mr Gates said it would be a mistake for the United States to cut aid.

The world's two largest economies have been engaged in a tit-for-tat trade war over tariffs for much of the year.

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