Bill Gates unveils futuristic toilet at Reinvented Toilet Expo in Beijing

Almost every facet of the human life has experienced a revolution through the advancement of cutting-edge technologies which -to a greater percentage- has made everyday activities easier.

There's definitely no limit to technological advance, as evident in Beijing Tuesday, at the Reinvented Toilet Expo event - a showcase for new toilet technologies.

Microsoft Founder and philanthropist Bill Gates was on hand to unveil a futuristic toilet that doesn't need water or sewers and uses chemicals to turn human waste into fertiliser - designed and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation which has being researching the field the last seven years, spending over $200 million.

On stage and with a jar of human faeces, Bill Gates joked, "I have to say, a decade ago I never imagined that I'd know so much about poop."

Mr Gates added, "and I definitely never thought that Melinda would have to tell me to stop talking about toilets and faecal sludge at the dinner table."

Highlighting the importance of a global free trade system, amidst a trade tensions between China and the US, Gates said: "I honestly believe trade allows every country to do what it's best at," he told the Media in an interview on Tuesday.

"So when I talk about components of this toilet being made in China, others in Thailand, others in the U.S, you really want to be bringing together all of that IQ so that you're getting that combination."

The toilet, showcased by Mr Gates, comes in multiple designs and all have the same working mechanisms - by operating off-grid to separate liquid and solid waste and remove harmful by-products.
"It's no longer a question of if we can reinvent the toilet and other sanitation systems," he said. "It's a question of how quickly this new category of off-grid solutions will scale."

- Tackling Sanitation -

According to the WHO, 2.3 billion people around the world still don't have access to basic sanitation facilities leading to diseases like cholera, diarrhoea and dysentery which claims thousands of lives yearly.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation says poor sanitation kills half a million children under the age of five annually and costs the globe over 200 billion dollars a year in healthcare costs and lost income.

"It's a good reminder that there could be 200 trillion rotavirus cells, 20 billion Shigella bacteria, and 100,000 parasitic worm eggs," Gates said of the jar containing human faeces, held up to illustrate the importance of improving sanitation.

"The current toilet simply sends the waste away in the water, whereas these 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," Gates said.

The foundation hopes the reinvented toilet will first roll out in schools and apartment buildings, before they can become affordable in households.

"You're only going to pay hundreds of dollars for a toilet - if it's really fantastic maybe $500," Mr Gates told the BBC.

"You're saving all the costs of the waters, the processing products, but we have to bring it down by almost a factor of 10 from what the models are like - but that's not atypical for new product markets."

Gates said he expects the market for the toilets to be over six  billion dollars by 2030.

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