The new economy of excrement. Nature, September 13, 2017

The new economy of excrement. Nature, September 13, 2017

Entrepreneurs are finding profits turning human waste into fertiliser, fuel and even food.

On the outskirts of Kigali, Rwanda, septic trucks full of human excrement bump and slosh their way up orange dirt roads to their final destination: the Nduba landfill. Until recently, the trucks would spill their contents into giant open pits.

Will Swanson for Nature Semi-dried sludge on its way to becoming fuel at the Pivot plant in Rwanda

Will Swanson for Nature. Semi-dried sludge on its way to becoming fuel at the Pivot plant in Rwanda.

But since 2015, workers in green jumpsuits have greeted them outside a row of sheds and plastic-roofed greenhouses, ready to process the faecal sludge into a dry, powdery fuel.

The facility is called Pivot, and its founder is Ashley Muspratt, a sanitation engineer who lived in Ghana, Kenya and Rwanda for more than seven years before moving back to the United States last year. Muspratt insists that Pivot is not a treatment plant.

It’s a business. Its product powers local industries such as cement and brick plants. “I describe us as dual sanitation and renewable-fuel company,” Muspratt says. “Our model really is to build factories.”

Muspratt is part of a growing band of entrepreneurs trying to address one of the biggest challenges in public health — poor sanitation — and to turn a profit doing it. According to a report published by the World Health Organization and United Nations children’s charity Unicef in July, 2.8 billion people — 38% of the world’s population — have no access to sewers and deposit their waste in tanks and pit latrines (see ‘Sanitation across nations’).

Read the complete article.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s