With poo on a pedestal, Bill Gates talks toilet technology

November 6, 2018 by Mark Schiefelbein
With poo on a pedestal, Bill Gates talks toilet technology
Bill Gates, former Microsoft CEO and co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, gestures to a jar of human feces as he speaks at the Reinvented Toilet Expo in Beijing, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. With a jar of human feces on a podium next to him, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates has kicked off a "Reinvented Toilet" Expo in China. Gates said Tuesday that the technologies on display at the three-day expo in Beijing represent the most significant advances in sanitation in nearly 200 years. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

Placing a jar of feces on a pedestal next to him, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates made a plea Tuesday for the safe disposal of human waste as he kicked off a "Reinvented Toilet" Expo in China.

"You might guess what's in this beaker—and you'd be right. Human feces," the former CEO of software giant Microsoft said. "This small amount of feces could contain as many as 200 trillion rotavirus cells, 20 billion Shigella bacteria, and 100,000 parasitic worm eggs."

He went on to say that pathogens like these cause diseases that kill nearly 500,000 children under the age of 5 every year.

More than 20 companies and academic institutions are exhibiting new technologies at the three-day expo in Beijing, from self-contained toilets to a small-scale, self-powered waste treatment plant called the Omni Processor.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that Gates co-founded with his wife has spent more than $200 million since 2011 to stimulate research and development of safe technology.

"The technologies you'll see here are the most significant advances in sanitation in nearly 200 years," he said, according to a text of his prepared remarks.

UNICEF estimates that 4.5 billion people worldwide do not have access to safely managed sanitation, and that 480,000 children under 5 die every year from diarrhea, primarily in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. There is an economic cost too: Poor sanitation cost the world nearly $223 billion in 2015, according to a study by Oxford Economics and Japanese toilet maker Lixil.

Gates left the feces on display for about 10 minutes before removing it, his point made.

With poo on a pedestal, Bill Gates talks toilet technology
Bill Gates, former Microsoft CEO and co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, speaks as a jar of human feces sits on a podium at the Reinvented Toilet Expo in Beijing, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. With a jar of human feces on a podium next to him, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates has kicked off a "Reinvented Toilet" Expo in China. Gates said Tuesday that the technologies on display at the three-day expo in Beijing represent the most significant advances in sanitation in nearly 200 years. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
With poo on a pedestal, Bill Gates talks toilet technology
Bill Gates, former Microsoft CEO and co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, speaks as a jar of human feces sits on a podium at the Reinvented Toilet Expo in Beijing, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. With a jar of human feces on a podium next to him, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates has kicked off a "Reinvented Toilet" Expo in China. Gates said Tuesday that the technologies on display at the three-day expo in Beijing represent the most significant advances in sanitation in nearly 200 years. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
With poo on a pedestal, Bill Gates talks toilet technology
Bill Gates, former Microsoft CEO and co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, speaks as a jar of human feces sits on a podium at the Reinvented Toilet Expo in Beijing, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. With a jar of human feces on a podium next to him, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates has kicked off a "Reinvented Toilet" Expo in China. Gates said Tuesday that the technologies on display at the three-day expo in Beijing represent the most significant advances in sanitation in nearly 200 years. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
With poo on a pedestal, Bill Gates talks toilet technology
Visitors look at a model of a self-contained toilet at the Reinvented Toilet Expo in Beijing, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. With a jar of human feces on a podium next to him, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates has kicked off a "Reinvented Toilet" Expo in China. Gates said Tuesday that the technologies on display at the three-day expo in Beijing represent the most significant advances in sanitation in nearly 200 years. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
With poo on a pedestal, Bill Gates talks toilet technology
A visitor looks at a display at the Reinvented Toilet Expo in Beijing, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. With a jar of human feces on a podium next to him, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates has kicked off a "Reinvented Toilet" Expo in China. Gates said Tuesday that the technologies on display at the three-day expo in Beijing represent the most significant advances in sanitation in nearly 200 years. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
With poo on a pedestal, Bill Gates talks toilet technology
Visitors look at a display of a self-contained sewage treatment facility the Reinvented Toilet Expo in Beijing, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. With a jar of human feces on a podium next to him, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates has kicked off a "Reinvented Toilet" Expo in China. Gates said Tuesday that the technologies on display at the three-day expo in Beijing represent the most significant advances in sanitation in nearly 200 years. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

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