Stage 4: Transition to Scale
Around 4500 Tiger Toilets have now been sold and we are seeking funding to increase production capacity and grow sales. We are developing partnerships to help us scale : with MFIs to increase rural penetration and with LIXIL on design and marketing.
Funds Raised to Date
The problem is the lack of access to decent and safely managed sanitation, specifically the issue of safe treatment and disposal on-site. We thereby contribute to the achievement of SDG 6. In many communities there is no means of safely emptying and treating the waste. Safely managed sanitation is an ambitious new global service norm set by WHO/UNICEF. Simply installing a latrine without any provision for subsequent safe waste disposal is no longer sufficient.
Our innovations realize the potential of a natural, safe and intrinsically low cost technology, vermifiltration, which neutralizes faecal waste and turns it into vermicompost. The technology is modular and products have been developed for use at household level on-site ( Tiger Toilet, where a vermifilter Digester is connected to the toilet ), or at centralised facilities treating large quantities of fecal sludge or wastewater ( Tiger Biofilter).
For the Tiger Toilet the primary target are low income rural families who are dissatisfied with their current sanitation. We are also developing a version for slum families. The Tiger Biofilter will benefit communities where there is no current means of dealing with the waste from septic tanks and community toilets - the first prototype in Pune is serving a slum community of 5000 people.
Mission and Vision
Our vision is to bring decent sanitation in reach of everyone
The core technology is the vermifilter. Waste is trapped at the surface of the filter, where it is digested rapidly and completely by a worm-based ecosystem, converting it into small amounts of vermicompost. There is thus no build up of sludge and hence no smell. Only around 15% of the waste is turned into compost so accumulation is slow: the oldest systems are five years old and have not yet been emptied. So it is a low maintenance system. The effluent passes through a drainage bed before discharge. In field tests we found 2 log removal of pathogens in the effluent. This is sufficient for discharge into the surrounding soil in the case of the Tiger Toilet. In the case of the Tiger Biofilter, the effluent is further treated with chlorine and can be recycled for use in irrigating gardens. The vermicompost is also essentially free of bacterial pathogens and can be reused. The Biofilter can treat anything from 1500l/d of wastewater (2-3 families) through to 10,000 l/day (small apartment block, factory) to more than 500,000 l/d (small community (~5000 people).
The Tiger Toilet is more cost-effective than a latrine or septic tank. The complete package ( toilet plus digester) sells for around 24000 INR which is comparable with a complete toilet with twin-pit latrine and considerably less than a septic tank. However unlike the latter two options there are no smells and no need for desludging. In India the biggest concern latrine users have is what will happen when the pit is full as there are often no means of emptying it. This leads to lack of use and reversion to open defecation. Because the Tiger Toilet removes these concerns, usage is consistently high and therefore we expect the health impact to be correspondingly greater. The Tiger Biofilter is less expensive to operate than conventional waste treatment systems because the energy consumption is much lower - it is essentially a passive process with only a small amount of energy being used to distribute the waste.
Planned Goals and Milestones
Transitioning to scale - developing a mass production version of the digester technology and ramping up sales and distribution.