ASwedish entrepreneur is trying to market and sell a biodegradable plastic bag that acts as a single-use toilet for urban slums in the developing world.
Once used, the bag can be knotted and buried, and a layer of urea crystals breaks down the waste into fertilizer, killing off disease-producing pathogens found in feces.
The bag, called the Peepoo, is the brainchild of Anders Wilhelmson, an architect and professor in Stockholm. "Not only is it sanitary," said Wilhelmson, who has patented the bag, "they can reuse this to grow crops."
In his research, he found that urban slums in Kenya, despite being densely populated, had open spaces where waste could be buried.
He also found that slum dwellers there collected their excrement in a plastic bag and disposed of it by flinging it, calling it a "flyaway toilet" or a "helicopter toilet". This inspired Wilhelmson to design the Peepoo, an environmentally friendly alternative that he is confident will turn a profit. "People will say, 'It's valuable to me, but well priced,' " he said. He plans to sell it for about 2 or 3 cents — comparable to the cost of an ordinary plastic bag.
In the developing world, an estimated 2.6 billion people, or about 40% of the earth's population, do not have access to a toilet, according to United Nations figures.
It is a public health crisis: open defecation can contaminate drinking water, and an estimated 1.5 million kids worldwide die yearly from diarrhea, largely because of poor sanitation and hygiene. The market for low-cost toilets in the developing world is about a trillion dollars. NYT NEWS SERVICE
THROW-AND-USE: Children in Kenya with the Peepoo, a single-use bag designed to convert waste into fertilizer while destroying disease-producing pathogens