microsoft founder bill gates caught the attention of business leaders, investors, and government officials, on tuesday by presenting to them a jar of human faeces. it was an appropriate stunt before gates outlined aims to save 500,000 young lives a year by inventing the toilet of the future.


gates was on-stage in beijing at the reinvented toilet expo when he declared the funding of $200 million into researching how to deal with human waste at the source. the initiative hopes to star an evolution in toilet technology by coming up with a solution that doesn’t require a sewer system.


it’s good to be reminded, in there could be over 200 trillion rotavirus particles, 20 billion shigella bacteria, and 100,000 parasitic worm eggs,’ gates told the crowd after unveiling what he politely referred to as a ‘little exhibit.’


according to the world health organisation (WHO), 2.3 billion people around the world still don’t have access to basic sanitation facilities. as a result diseases like cholera, diarrhoea and dysentery which kill hundreds of thousands of people every year.


it’s no longer a question of if we can reinvent the toilet and other sanitation systems,’ he’s a question of how quickly this new category of off-grid solutions will scale.


video by bill gates



twenty cutting-edge sanitation products were on display during the expo, intended to destroy harmful bacteria and prevent disease. the showcased products aim to revolutionise sanitation technology by operating off-grid to separate liquid and solid waste and remove harmful by-products.


a decade ago, I didn’t think I would be able to tell you so much about poop,‘ gates said. the bill and melinda gates foundation started its reinvent the toilet challenge in 2011 when it funded $200 million in grants for universities around the world to develop a next-generation toilet. 


the first batch of products from the ‘reinvent the toilet challenge‘ is being tested in locations around india, africa, and china. the foundation has said they hope the reinvented toilet will first roll out in buildings like schools and apartment buildings, before costs gradually decline and they become affordable in households.



bill gates is committed to achieving an evolution in toilet tech that could save millions of lives in developing countries and open up an entirely new market for businesses. gates hopes someday the private sector will start developing sewer-free home toilets and compete to provide those toilets to the 4.5 billion people around the world who don’t have them now.