Flushed with innovative solutions

Updated: Nov 23, 2016, 21:29 IST | Aparna Shukla |

When the sanitation summit came to town, we scouted some options and narrowed down the three projects to look out for

As the global sanitation crisis deepens and conversations on how to tackle the situation abound, the city hosted a Global Toilet Business Innovation and Investment Summit with around 200 speakers, innovators and leaders of the sanitation industry to compare and collaborate solutions. Cheryl Hicks, the Executive Director of the Toilet Board Coalition, who facilitated the event, said, “What we are looking at is accelerating the small scale toilet businesses along with large scale business, involving and working together towards making the sanitation sector bigger and better.”

Sarvamittra Sharma from the Jagran group, who has been active in the sanitation field as well, was also present at the summit. He said, “We have been working tirelessly in the field of sanitation since a long time. What we do is change the behavior of the people. Making a toilet is easy, but maintaining it, making the public use it well, is more important,” said Sharma. So, we picked three of the most interesting toilet projects, which could possibly be the future of Indian toilets, too.

The Refugee Toilet (Jason Kass, New York)
Kass, who started out by building a waterless toilet in his own cabin in Vermont, has incorporated the same design for the flood prone areas. “I made this toilet as the underground water level was too high to put a septic system.

Jason Kass with a Crapper prototype. Pics/Poonam Bathija
Jason Kass with a Crapper prototype. Pics/Poonam Bathija

Now, due to its mobility, it is being used in refugee camps and war zones as well,” said Kass. This toilet, called CRAPPER, stores the waste in a compost tray and is mobile not only because of its design, but because it turns excreta into odourless compost.

The ‘Black Soldier Fly’ Toilet (Marc Lewis, Bio Cycle Toilets)
This revolutionary toilet even has a book to its credit called ‘The Story Of The Fly And How It Could Save The World’. By using the Black Soldier Fly in toilet pits, the makers are literally converting the waste into useable products.

The byproducts of the Black Spider Fly system
The byproducts of the Black Soldier Fly system

“Their larva converts the nutrients of the waste into proteins and oil. The proteins can be used in the animal food industry and the oils have multipurpose use as well,” said Lewis, director of Bio Cycle. Only glitch: While they work wonderfully in humid and tropical areas, they are not so efficient in colder climes.

The ‘Samagra’ Toilet (Swapnil Chaturvedi, Pune)
Chaturvedi, who started out as a tuition teacher before joining the toilet business full-time, has managed to break even by reaching out to 200 slums of Pune. What is unique about his project is not just the design but the customer loyalty they have managed to garner by providing health checkups, FMCG products and a daycare centre for the women in the Pune slums. “Though we don’t shy away from our own toilets, the public toilets repel us. We made use of that emotion — Belongingness. People now feel like coming to these toilets instead of running away from it,” said Chaturvedi, adding, “The journey has been great. Having the green toilets, with so many facilities, including employment for women, we have seen a change in the toilet system.”

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