Trono, sustainable sanitation

Trono, sustainable sanitation: A low-cost, descentralized, mechanical, pedal-operated composting toilet

Guayaquil, EcuadorGuayaquil, Ecuador
Year Founded:
2013
Organization type: 
hybrid
Project Stage:
Growth
Budget: 
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

We provide low-cost, sustainable, off-grid sanitation solution for rural and semi-urban populations. Trono is an affordable, easy to use, comfortable and atractive water-less toilet that transforms waste into compost on site.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if we could help prevent the transmission of faecal-oral diseases which is the main reason for the deaths and discomfort of millions of children around the world?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

A child dies every 20 seconds because of faecal-oral diseases that can be avoided through proper sanitation, which is not accessible for the 40% of world population. Current sanitation solutions are not functional for this challenge, because they depend on water usage, expensive infrastructure or centralized systems. The lack of sanitation not only causes deaths, but also malnutrition, reduces work performance, and others.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

We co-developed and promote Trono, a low-cost ($250-$300), descentralized, mechanical, pedal-operated dry toilet that transforms feces into plant fertilizer without the use of water or electricity. We have co-developed this solution as well as a big-scale Injection Molding production logistic, which will allow mass production and cost reduction. This toilet allows on site transformation of waste into compost through an internal auger that oxygenates, dehydrates and mixes waste with sawdust, which makes it adequate for rural areas where collection services are unavailable or would be too expensive. Additionally, it doesn’t require a pit, making it a perfect solution for flooding areas.

Awards

The technology has been awarded two times by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a total of US$ 1.1M in grant funding for development and testing of a sanitation innovation.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

By providing secure, accessible, decentralized sanitation, we are be able to improve the health of millions, by avoiding the propagation of faecal-oral diseases, which will increase the communities' opportunities to improve their quality of life. Families will have access to sanitation in their own houses and schools, and will no longer have to walk long distances to defecate, reducing risks and shame. Since this a composting toilet that doesn’t use or contaminate water, expanding its use will increase the sustainability of sanitation services. The value chain will be built with the participation of communities, who will promote, sale, install and give maintenance to Trono, providing new sources of income to low income families.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

To date, more than 250 toilets have been installed, benefiting around 1000 people in different regions of Ecuador with access to adequate and sustainable sanitation. This is having a positive impact in their health, and in their possibilities of improving their quality of life. In the environment aspect, and considering an average of 8 liters of water used every time someone uses a hydraulic toilet, we estimate these toilets currently saves around more than 14 millions liters of water per year. This also promotes their home economy, since now they have reduced their expenditure in water supply, which in rural areas is 8 times more expensive than in urban areas.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Trono will be distributed through a franchisees network formed by local families. They will sell, install and give maintenance to the toilets in their communities. Other options to reach families are local governments and NGOs who already have bought many of the units. In terms of production, the goal is to establish production capacities in several Latin-American countries. The injection molds will rotate among regional partners to increase production and distribution capacity, decrease costs and expand knowledge sharing. The goal is to reach a half of million people by 2025.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Our goal is to make ecological sanitation a profitable business with huge impacts in improving quality of life and the environment. We will do this by establishing a permanent regional demand including public instituions, NGOs and final users (families), reducing production and distributions costs through injection molds and a communitary sales force, and searching new ways to generate income from our value chain such as selling compost.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are several initiatives around the world that aim at providing alternatives for sanitation a side from the traditional solution that consist of hydraulic toilets connected to a sewerage systems, which are not adequate for rural areas due to high costs. Some efforts propose adaptations to the seat of pit latrines making it easier and safer to use. However pit latrines arent adequate to every land condition and are susceptible to floods. Others consist in home mobile toilets, which require many users in one community to make it economically profitable and face challenges in collection.
Team

Founding Story

Our interest in developing sanitation technologies began while we were working in sustainable coastal management. Many beaches didn’t have sanitation services. The ones that did were contaminating the soil and ocean through infiltration. After researching for alternatives, we believed the most sustainable solution were dry composting toilets. However the current alternatives had very low acceptability among users because it lacked aspirational features and due to the maintenance requirements . That’s when we realized we could make it more functional, comfortable, easier to use and better looking. With the help from partners, it was achieved.

Team

*Marcos Fioravanti is a consultant and researcher in Sustainable Development and Eco-efficiency with 12 years of professional experience; mainly focused in Sustainable Sanitation, Integrated Water Management and Environmental Education. He has built/designed tens of improved ecological toilets and participated in more than 50 different projects in Ecuador, regarding to sanitation, water and waste management. Graduated as Engineer in Costa Rica, at the EARTH University, he has completed several post-graduated programs at INCAE, Berkeley University and the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI). (https://ec.linkedin.com/pub/marcosfioravanti/3a/647/a88) * Iván Morejón (FIT and AC Chief Financial Officer), Bachelor in Business Administration (2010) and Master Degree in Project Management (2014). Professional career dedicated on Administration and Commercial areas, going thru different types of private companies as: Brewing Company, Industrial Services, Maritime Transport, Automotive Industry. *David Pereira (Program Coordinator) is an Engineer in Agronomy from EARTH University, with experience in composting toilets and permaculture. He has been involved in the installation of Trono, market research and technology testing since 2014. We also have the support of part-time installers.
Background
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

Thanks to a friend from Agora Partnership

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

Founder

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

Clean Water and Sanitation.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

Ambiente Creativo has developed several projects with the public and private focused on sustainable development: We participated in the engineering of the Daule River Network which resulted in the first Water Fund for the conservation of the most important watershed in Ecuador, designed and implemented the largest recycling program in a neighborhood in Guayaquil, development of a patented recycling container adapted for local waste context, establishment of the first community network for beach waste recycling logistics, development of "Education for Sustainability" program that won first place in "Premios Latinoamerica Verde", etc.

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

We co-developed the technology with Critical Practices LLC. We receive financial and business mentorship from Erin Miley, Director of the Social Business Accelerator Program in Agora Partnership. For the scale-up of our toilet technology, we have several signed agreements with strategic partners such as NGO's Hogar de Cristo and TECHO, which annually sell or donate 4,500 and 200 houses, respectively, that will include Trono. We are establishing a collaboration process with the National Plastic Association and the ESPOL University for developing local production capacity. Recently, an agreement was established with Universidad Católica de Santiago de Guayaquil for executing tests that prove Trono’s capacity to sanitize waste. We plan to establish a strategic partnership with DISENSA (a company with more than 500 warehouse stores in Ecuador) for sale of the toilet and for product accessories we are in the process of collaborating with Tubos Pacifico (one of the biggest PVC pipe companies in Ecuador). We have an ongoing collaboration process with Pelikano, the biggest wood company (with whom we have been co-designing low-cost alternatives for the toilet housing). Initial conversations are already in progress with Banco Desarrollo, a local microfinance institution interested in participating in this venture. Kiva, an international crowd-funding platform, has also been approached to provide lending opportunities to the beneficiaries.