Project Title: Re-thinking sanitation by upcycling urine for societal and economic benefit
Host Organisation: University of Cape Town, South Africa
Since most African countries are still in the developing phase, it would be beneficial for them, and the world, if sanitation services are implemented while being mindful of sustainability and resource recovery from "waste". If these systems are installed based on past designs, Africa would be repeating the same mistakes currently facing many developed countries. For example, optimizing existing urban wastewater treatment infrastructure, as important as it is, is not ultimately going to reduce the thirst for water and stem the hunger for resources of burgeoning cities in a water and resource scarce future. The longer we accept business as usual with our current urban water cycle, the more the window of opportunity of making a significant impact decreases. The collection of urine from toilets or urinals would allow us to recover valuable resources (such as fertilizers) from something that is often considered a "waste". In addition, novel fertilizer-producing urinals could significantly reduce the volume of water individuals use on a daily basis. This project aims to disrupt the sanitation sector by producing novel sanitation systems to transform collected urine into many useful products. This work is particularly exciting because it has the ability to transform our view of "waste" while helping create a green and circular economy. For example, imagine office blocks becoming mini-fertilizer producing plants, treating urine on-site while also creating an economic incentive to do this. The benefits to society would be substantial, whereby sustainable and resilient cities of the future would be created.