LooWatt has created what may be the world’s most sustainable toilet.
Its closed-loop system does not need water to function and turns human waste into electricity, biogas and fertiliser. The waterless toilet also locks in odour without the need for chemicals.
“You need to have a waterless system so that you don’t need to waste water to get human waste out of sight and out of mind,” LooWatt founder Virginia Gardiner told Dezeen. “And you need to have value generating systems.”
The waste is treated through utility-run anaerobic digestion systems that recover energy and fertiliser from faecal matter. In the toilets being constructed for use in Madagascar, the company is designing a household sanitation service that links to small-scale anaerobic digestion treatment systems.
LooWatt is part of the Food: Bigger than the Plate exhibition at London’s V&A Museum. As reported by Dezeen, the exhibition consists of four sections—compost, farming, trading and eating—and is designed to give visitors a sense of what role they play in the food system.
“In an era of major ecological challenges, fast-changing societies and technological re-invention, now is a crucial moment to ask not just what will we be eating tomorrow, but what kind of food future do we want? What could it look like?” posed co-curators Catherine Flood and May Rosenthal Sloan.
The groundbreaking toilet company is hoping to shape this future in a positive way.
According to the World Health Organisation, poor sanitation leads to two million deaths per year. The United Nations has estimated that over 60 percent of the world’s population will be living in water-limited areas by 2025. Plumbed sewerage systems are not feasible in most areas of the world, so sewer-serviced sanitation networks will only become less viable with time.
“We believe that to make a new solution for sanitation in the 21st century, you need to have the experience on a par with a flush toilet in terms of hygiene and no odour,” Virginia said.
Proper sanitation requires safe collection, transport, and treatment of faecal matter, a matter beyond just building more toilets. LooWatt’s products and services have been designed to “[meet] the standards of governments and utilities and can be scaled to address the sanitation challenges of growing urban centres.”
“Non-sewer-serviced toilets are the future for urban sanitation in many parts of the world,” Virginia said. “It’s the future, but it’s also happening right now.”
LooWatt has created mobile, outdoor versions and in-home models of its toilet. Over 800 people worldwide are using LooWatt toilets, and the company will be shipping several hundred toilets to the Philippines and Madagascar throughout the year.