About the Reinvented Toilet (RT) Technology Portfolio

The development of the RT technology portfolio was initiated through BMGF’s 2011 Reinvent the Toilet Challenge (RTTC). The Challenge aimed to spur development of a toilet that:

  • Removes germs from human waste and recovers valuable resources such as energy, clean water, and nutrients.
  • Operates “off the grid” without connections to water, sewer, or electrical lines.
  • Costs less than US$.05 cents per user per day.
  • Promotes sustainable and financially profitable sanitation services and businesses that operate in poor, urban settings.
  • Is a truly aspirational next-generation product that everyone will want to use—in developed as well as developing nations.

A range of investments resulted from the RTTC and the current BMGF WSH portfolio is composed of core-processing technologies (back-end components), front-end components (e.g., interfaces), sensors, menstrual hygiene management tools, among others. The components are integrated into complete toilet units for both single-unit reinvented toilets (SURT) and multi-unit reinvented toilets (MURT) settings. The portfolio is at various stages of product development from nine technology partners. Learn more about the investments and partners in the Reinvented Toilet portfolio here.

Below we summarize the range of information produced in the STeP platform describing our understanding of the market and user needs for the Reinvented Toilet in the following sections:

What is the global market opportunity for the Reinvented Toilet technologies?

According to a 2017 report by the WHO and UNICEF, “some 3 in 10 people worldwide, or 2.1 billion, lack access to safe, readily available water at home, and 6 in 10, or 4.5 billion, lack safely managed sanitation”. The Reinvented Toilet technologies represent a meaningful and accessible business opportunity that can both drive revenue growth and contribute to alleviating human suffering. We have characterized the social impact and market opportunity in the range of reports below.

South Africa: Municipal Sanitation

STeP or Partner: SP Investment Holdings
Country of focus: South Africa
Published date: April 2019

Transforming Sanitation: Commercializing Partnership Opportunities

STeP or Partner: BCG
Country of focus: Global
Published date: December 2017

Market Features Report: High-level scan of four countries

STeP or Partner: STeP
Country of focus: India, Indonesia, Thailand, Bangladesh
Published date: September 2016

How do the Reinvented Toilet technologies compare against existing sanitation solutions?

When we look at today’s solutions, from the most basic hanging toilets and pits, to flush toilets connected to septic tanks or sewers and wastewater treatment plants, we see a wide range of challenges including safety, environmental contamination, water usage, and cost. The Reinvented Toilet is a modular, transformative technology that offers a non-sewered sanitation solution that fills a critical gap in the portfolio of sanitation options available today.

An Assessment of Small-Scale STP Technologies: India

STeP or Partner: STeP
Country of focus: India
Published date: May 2017

Bio-based Sanitation Technologies: The Landscape in India

STeP or Partner: STeP
Country of focus: India
Published date: December 2015

Cost and Revenue Data To Inform Sanitation System Economics

STeP or Partner: STeP
Country of focus: Global (28 low and middle income countries)
Published date: 2017

Incineration and Combustion Toilets: A Product and Patent Landscape

STeP or Partner: STeP
Country of focus: Global
Published date: April 2017

Who are the potential buyers and users of the Reinvented Toilet technologies?

Given the global nature of the sanitation challenges today and the breadth of technologies in the portfolio, the Reinvented Toilet technologies may be a viable commercial opportunity in many different countries across multiple customer segments around the world. When looking to understand the market opportunity for the RT in a given market, it is critical to assess that opportunity within potential customer segments / use cases. Specifically, striving to understand what aspects of the Reinvented Toilet value proposition resonate most with each discrete customer segment is an important part of the process to validate the market need and the RT’s ability to fulfill that need. Several studies illustrate the potential segments in the market and what we know of each segment.

Reinvented Toilet: Early Adopter Compendium

STeP or Partner: BCG
Country of focus: Global
Published date: February 2019

Apartments in India: Small Scale Survey

STeP or Partner: STeP
Country of focus: India
Published date: August 2015

Public & Community Toilet Market Landscape: India

STeP or Partner: STeP
Country of focus: India
Published date: January 2016

Public school toilets: An Indian Market Landscape

STeP or Partner: STeP
Country of focus: India
Published date: November 2015

Shared Toilet Facility Use Cases

STeP or Partner: Quicksand
Country of focus: India
Published date: May 2017

Stakeholder Perspectives: Research Framing Study in Coimbatore, India

STeP or Partner: STeP
Country of focus: India
Published date: March 2016

Stakeholder perspectives: Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Senegal

STeP or Partner: STeP
Country of focus: Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Senegal
Published date: January 2017

What are key go-to-market considerations to drive towards commercialization of the Reinvented Toilet?

While the Reinvented Toilet technologies presents a large multibillion annual market opportunity, realizing this commercial potential will require addressing the usual challenges associated with creating a new product category in potentially a new geographic area. The Market Insights reports aim to provide a comprehensive view of the RT opportunity in a given urban market, incorporating a variety of methods such as stakeholder mapping, customer segmentation, and interviews in order to develop go-to-market recommendations for partners including business model options, regulatory impact, and local partnership opportunities in target geographies.

China Sanitation Market Brief

STeP or Partner: STeP
Country of focus: China
Published date: March 2019

Business Model Insights for Community and Public Toilets in India

STeP or Partner: STeP
Country of focus: India
Published date: February 2019

Access to Electricity in Reinvented Toilet Markets – Latin America, Africa, Asia

STeP or Partner: STeP
Country of focus: Latin America, Africa, Asia
Published date: September 2017

Market Insights for the RT: Europe

STeP or Partner: BCG
Country of focus: Europe, France, Poland
Published date: February 2018

Market Insights for the RT: India

STeP or Partner: FSG
Country of focus: India
Published date: November 2016

Sanitation Technology Funder Landscape

STeP or Partner: STeP
Country of focus: Bangladesh, India, South Africa, Global
Published date: October 2018

Market Insights for the RT: US

STeP or Partner: BCG
Country of focus: United States
Published date: December 2017

Business Model Assessment of Sewage Treatment Plants

STeP or Partner: STeP
Country of focus: India
Published date: April 2016

Market Insights for the RT: Kenya and Nigeria

STeP or Partner: Dalberg
Country of focus: Kenya, Nigeria
Published date: September 2017

Market Insights for the RT: China

STeP or Partner: BCG
Country of focus: China
Published date: November 2017

The Sanitation Solutions: Business Models for Access

STeP or Partner: STeP
Country of focus: Global
Published date: March 2016

What are the key technical features and tradeoffs users would expect?

While all the SURT and MURT technologies are required to meet certain common specifications (e.g. destruction of pathogen on-site), there are still a number of differences among the technologies including size, maintenance requirements, types of by-products, and others. A number of studies have been conducted to understand the types of technical features and tradeoffs different customer segments in select geographies may expect, which may inform product design and go-to-market strategy.

Transformative Sanitation Technology Directory

STeP or Partner: STeP
Country of focus: Global
Published date: October 2018

Technology Insights by Parameter

STeP or Partner: FSG
Country of focus: India
Published date: November 2016