Thinking Tech

Peepoo bag neutralizes the scourge of pee and poo

Posting in Architecture

The remarkably simple Peepoo bag solves a huge problem in the developing world - sanitizing human excrement, which is responsible for a host of lethal diseases, and turning it into fertilizer.

We take working toilets for granted, but 40 per cent earth's people - 2.6 billion of them - don't enjoy that luxury. Enter the Peepoo, a bag that sanitizes human excrement for those who do not have access to commodes much less plumbing. What's more, Peepoo goes full cycle, turning the waste into fertilizer.

"The Peepoo (pat.pend) is a personal single use toilet, that sanitise the human excreta shortly after the defecation, preventing the faeces from contaminating the immediate as well as the larger environment. The Peepoo is personal as in personal computer, it is mobile as in mobile phone and micro as in Microsoft. User-friendly and advanced, yet simple and cheap, the Peepoo offers a high degree of contemporary status," according to its Swedish inventors at Peepoople.

The active ingredient inside the Peepoo is urea, which raises the PH level in the feces. As that occurs, harmful bacteria, parasites and viruses are "inactivated" within 2-4 weeks, according to the Peepoople web site. Untreated feces takes 1-2 years to break down in nature.

PeePoo sanitizing toilet in a bag.

Once the fecal matter is broken down, it can be used as a nitrogen-based fertilizer. The bag itself is made from a bio-degradable polymer so that breaks down, too, and does not contaminate the environment.

The Peepoo is the brainchild of architecture professor Anders Wilhelmson at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. He plans to sell the bags for 2-3 cents each, according to a March 1 New York Times (NYT) story. Wilhelmson launched the project in 2005 and this past October, a large scale pilot of 20,000 people commenced in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Peepoo helps solve a world health crisis those of us in developed nations rarely think about. Fecal pathogens are responsible for a host of lethal diseases including viruses and infections.

"Open defecation can contaminate drinking water, and an estimated 1.5 million children worldwide die yearly from diarrhea, largely because of poor sanitation and hygiene. To mitigate this, the United Nations has a goal to reduce by half the number of people without access to toilets by 2015," says the NYT story.

As the video below points out, a child dies every 15 seconds from contaminated drinking water. Think about that next time you use the john.

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John Dodge

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor John Dodge has written for the Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, PC Week (now eWeek), EDN, Design News, Electronic Business, Bio-IT World, Health-IT World, Lowell Sun, Haverhill Gazette and Newburyport Daily News. He is based in Massachusetts. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure