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.
The reinvented toilet is a collection of innovative technologies that use different approaches to break down human waste and destroy germs, and leave behind clean water and solids that can be used as fertilizer or disposed of safely outdoors without further treatment, Gates said.
"There is a market opportunity to meet the needs of 4.5 billion people worldwide," he said. "More than half of the world's population doesn't have the safe sanitation they need to lead healthy and productive lives."
The initial demand for the reinvented toilet will be in schools, apartment buildings and community toilet facilities, he added.
Since 2011, the foundation has invested more than 200 million U.S. dollars into working with partners to develop a new generation of non-sewered sanitation technologies.
Gates said that the foundation plans to invest an additional 200 million U.S. dollars into supporting continued R&D efforts that can help bring down the costs of new sanitation products for the poor and bolster development in regions where new, non-sewered sanitation products can have the greatest impact.
"It's no longer a question of if we can reinvent the toilet and other sanitation systems. It's a question of how quickly this new category of off-grid solutions will scale," he said.
"It's also important for national and local governments to create an enabling environment with policies and regulations that encourage innovative sanitation service models, including with the private sector," he said.
Gates said that China's toilet revolution and its action plan for accelerating progress on safe sanitation underscores its potential as a launch market for non-sewered sanitation solutions. "It's notable that three of the partners making announcements here -- Clear, Exosan and CRRC -- are based in China," he said.
The World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the African Development Bank also announced at the expo commitments with the potential to unlock 2.5 billion U.S. dollars in financing for sanitation projects that provide people in all parts of a city, including the poorest neighborhoods, with safely managed sanitation services.
The expo, co-hosted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade and the China Chamber of International Commerce, is being held from Nov. 6 to 8 in Beijing and is focusing on how innovations in sanitation can transform lives for the better.