Loowatt supplies waterless flush toilets and sanitation solutions for global markets. We have been developing and testing whole value-chain sanitation hardware in the UK (public toilets) and Madagascar (household toilets) since 2013. We have been working with utilities in both countries since 2016. As of August 2018, our toilets have been used by over 100,000 customers and we have delivered 200 tonnes of fecal sludge to closed-loop treatment.
We are often asked, Why the ‘dual market’ focus? There are in fact many reasons for this strategy, but the single most important reason is, we’d be missing out on too much learning if we did things differently. Working with utilities internationally has taught us that despite geographic and economic differences, they face common challenges: Dealing with increasing water scarcity, delivering uninterrupted service, managing high operating costs, and trying to offset those costs through waste-to-resource. Working with utilities ensures that the technology we develop helps to better address their core challenges.
Improving waste-to-resource: In the United Kingdom, Thames Water treats 90% of its sludge in anaerobic digestion systems and generates 15% of the energy it uses. They are constantly striving to increase the energy they produce, so to reduce their operating costs. Thames Water is working with Loowatt to analyse the value of captured waste from waterless toilets as a direct input to utility-run anaerobic digestion systems. They believe that Loowatt waste is likely to generate more financial return in treatment than toilet waste diluted by sewers or dosed with chemicals.
Optimising system capacity: In Madagascar, Loowatt has partnered with SAMVA (the waste utility) to gain access to the city’s treatment facilities. This partnership is providing Loowatt Madagascar the treatment capacity to scale our household service, while supporting SAMVA’s interest to have the facilities run at capacity.
Providing a waterless toilet service to end-customers: In 2017, Loowatt participated in Laguna Water’s Portable Toilet Service pilot for the low-income, high-density areas of the Laguna Province. In the multi-criteria evaluation, Loowatt’s technology outperformed the other vendor’s, with the decisive criteria being financial performance and customer satisfaction. We chock up much of this success to experience operating our own services in collaboration with utilities in two countries.
What are the expectations for non-sewered sanitation? We believe that all government, municipal and utility stakeholders expect a robust service that supports broader public health. While the planning and financing of functional sewer and treatment systems is well understood, less is clear on how to include non-sewered sanitation service approaches. For governments, municipalities, utilities and financiers to take on the hard work of building the frameworks and financing for new sanitation solutions, they need assurance that those solutions will meet high standards. From our experience, this means that new sanitation solutions must:
Technology providers like Loowatt that meet these criteria must work with governments, municipalities, and utilities to show that non-sewered toilets can, in operation, meet the needs of their constituents. By fostering more operational collaborations between technology providers and public partners, we can build a healthier living environment for our people and our planet.
Loowatt are attending Word Water Week in Stockholm alongside the RELX Group (Norra Latin, Ground Floor, MV7). We are grateful for their support since winning the Environmental Challenge 2016.
 Thames Water Innovation and Loowatt, IUK HIT-G Project 2017-2018
Utility Business Model (Piloting the PTS in Laguna, Philippines): https://forum.susana.org/161-sanitation-as-a-business-and-business-models/22429-utility-business-model-piloting-two-portable-toilet-systems-pts-in-laguna-philippines