Business human poop an untapped source of wealth

Published on November 6th, 2015 | by Jeff McIntire-Strasburg

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The Waste Biz: Human Poop As Venture Capital?

human poop an untapped source of wealth

Would you poop in a bucket if you knew you could trade it for other things of value? Well, we’re not going to suggest that… but, as we’ve noted before, entrepreneurs in the developing world have discovered the value of #2, and are using the smelly stuff to create economic growth.

That’s good, because human poop, when not treated correctly, creates a lot of cost: a new study from United Nations University notes, for instance, that in Uganda alone, poor sanitation cost the country’s economy $177 million annually. That’s a hard, cold number that covers up the fact that much of this loss stems from health problems and even death caused by water polluted with excrement. But dealing with this human need correctly doesn’t just clean up the environmental impact: it also allows healthy children, for instance, to make it to school more regularly. This video from the Waste to Wealth program shows how a relatively simple anaerobic digestion system for human waste can make a big difference in people’s lives:

Sanitation kills two birds with one stone: it produces products that can be sold, and removes threats to health and livelihood that reduce human productivity (as well as create a lot of misery). The most important aspect is summarized in the “Waste to Wealth” title itself: our waste has value, and dealing with it appropriately gives us a chance to recover that value.

Time notes that, globally, putting human excrement to work in the market could create $9.5 billion in wealth. We’ll keep an eye to see what entrepreneurs step up to this opportunity…

Also buzzing in the waste space…

Transporting compostables by bike thriving in Texas: Jim Montavalli at MNN digs into a business model we’ve pointed to in years past: collecting compostables by cargo bike. Austin, Texas’ Compost Pedallers is thriving after three years of delivering organic wastes to composters willing to take them. The company will launch an Indiegogo campaign on November 10 to fund electric-assisted bikes for its collectors…

Preserve Digging into Bottle Cap Recycling: The makers of those recycled plastic tooth brushes is partnering up with a number of other companies to figure out recycling solutions for plastic bottle caps. (via Waste Dive)

Photo credit: Shutterstock


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About the Author

Jeff McIntire-Strasburg is the founder and editor of sustainablog. You can keep up with all of his writing at Facebook, and at



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