Abstract

The toilet-wastewater-pollution nexus – the provision of safe, hygienic and appropriate sanitation solutions – is an emerging, priority issue world-wide. Developed nations have followed a linear design approach to achieve their sanitation needs, with conventional waterborne systems continuously improved to meet more stringent control and pollution regulations while minimising the load on the natural environment. Developing countries, on the other hand, continue to struggle to implement such systems, due to a myriad of factors associated with financing, affordability and revenue, and thus rely heavily on on-site systems. On-site systems pose a different set of technical challenges related to their management, which is often overlooked in the developing world. Whereas, while technology strides increase in conventional sanitation processes towards zero-effluent, these come at a significant cost and energy requirement. Further, climate variability and water security put added pressure on the resources available for flushing and transporting human waste. A new paradigm for sanitation, proposed in this paper, introduces and is based on technology disrupters that can safely treat human excreta, and matches user preferences without the need for sewers, or reliance on large quantities of water and/or energy supplies. Through innovation and smart-chain supply, universal access can be achieved sustainably, and linked to water security and business opportunities. The opportunity arises for leapfrogging these solutions in growing cities in the developing world, reducing water consumption and eliminating pollutant pathways.

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