Billionaire Bill Gates put a jug with dung on a pedestal next to him and pleaded Tuesday for the safe disposal of human waste when he started a "Reinvented Toilet" Expo in China.
"You can guess what's in that mug – and you're right. Human excrement, "said former CEO of software giant Microsoft. "This small amount of feces could contain up to 200 trillion Rotavirus cells, 20 billion Shigella bacteria and 100,000 parasitic worm eggs."
He further said that pathogens cause diseases that kill nearly 500,000 children under the age of 5 each year.
At the three-day trade show in Beijing, more than 20 companies and academic institutions are introducing new toilet technologies, from self-contained toilets to a small, self-powered waste treatment facility, the Omni Processor.
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The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which Gates founded with his wife, has spent more than $ 200 million since 2011 to promote the research and development of safer sanitary technologies.
"The technologies you will see here are the most significant advances in sanitation for almost 200 years," he said in a text of his prepared remarks.
UNICEF estimates that 4.5 billion people worldwide have no access to safe sanitation and that 480,000 children under the age of 5 die each year from diarrhea, especially in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. There are also economic costs: Poor sanitation costs the world nearly $ 223 billion in 2015, according to a study by Oxford Economics and Japanese toilet maker Lixil.
Gates left the feces on the display for about 10 minutes before removing it.