ISO standards help develop new toilet technology that will save millions of lives

“International Standards are key to the progression of new sanitation technology and developing an industry that saves lives,” said ISO Secretary-General Sergio Mujica at the Reinvented Toilet Expo held today in Beijing, China.

Mujica was speaking on a high-level panel as part of the opening plenary that featured Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Dr Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank, as well as other leading representatives from industry and government.

The panel, which is part of the three-day Reinvented Toilet Expo summit, discussed commitments to non-sewered sanitation and actions required to develop the industry, including standardization. Reinvented toilet technology is all about stand-alone sanitation systems that safely treat waste without the need to be connected to a traditional sewerage system. It is designed to revolutionize the lives of billions of people around the world who lack sufficient clean sanitation systems, saving lives and improving well-being.

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Fresh changes in the pipeline

Ageing wastewater systems are under threat from growing populations, urbanization, pollution and climate change, not to mention human behaviour. However, despite these challenges and fears for health and safety, the new ISO 24516 series is playing a key role in turning what many consider a burden into a valuable resource.

Posted on | By Elizabeth Gasiorowski-Denis

A pipe clogged with fats, oil and grease, nicknamed the “fatberg”, was found blocking a London sewer.

The alarm goes off and, as we roll out of bed, the daily routine kicks in – flush the toilet, take a shower, maybe run a bath, fill the kettle for the vital morning cuppa, perhaps turn on the washing machine and unload the dishwasher from the night before.Most of us don’t give any of this a second thought until a blockage or a faulty part means having to search for the plunger or call in a plumber. We certainly don’t spend much time – in fact, probably none first thing in the morning! – thinking about what happens to the water that is flushed into the sewage system or that drains away from the white goods in our kitchens. When we turn on the tap for the kettle, unless the water is a strange colour or smells, we take it for granted that the quality is good and it is safe to drink.

But what happens to this wastewater and other “waste” products such as the fat that we poured down the sink after last night’s dinner? Last summer, the media reported on a massive block of fat, nicknamed the “fatberg”, that was found blocking a London sewer. As well as fat and grease, it contained nappies and baby wipes that had been flushed down lavatories. This was indeed a monster, but similar fatbergs, although smaller, are found around the world in all wastewater transport systems.

The fatberg example is just one of many horror stories emerging that indicate our waste­water systems are coming under increasing strain.

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