Lindsey Johnson | April 02, 2014
Kohler Co. and California Institute of Technology—after a two-year collaborative development of a photovoltaic toilet—competed in the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge in New Delhi, India. The challenge, which is hosted by the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation in conjunction with World Water Day, is an effort to develop next-generation toilets that will provide sustainable sanitation to 2.5 billion people around the world that don’t have it.
Kohler and Caltech implemented region-specific plumbing products and a decorative exterior that reflects Indian culture. The system includes a self-contained water purification and disinfection system that does not require wastewater disposal.
“Global sanitation is an issue that needs to be addressed, and we are proud to be a part of what the Gates Foundation is doing to increase awareness and inspire solutions,” says Rob Zimmerman, sustainability manager for Kohler Co. “Regardless of the technology developed, cultural acceptance of the solution is the key to its success. We put a lot of time and thought into how to best achieve that.”
First launched in 2012 in Seattle, the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge aims to create a toilet that removes germs from human waste and recovers valuable resources at less than $.05 cents per user per day. This year, researchers, investors, designers, advocates and representatives from around the world gathered to educate themselves on innovative sanitation and adopt these solutions in their respective communities. To date, the Gates Foundation has funded 16 research institutions as part of the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge.