TÜV SÜD: Standard for decentralised faecal sludge treatment in developing countries

08-11-2016

TÜV SÜD has started developing a private technical standard for decentralized treatment plants. The aim is to promote innovations for safe and environmentally friendly sanitation in developing countries. The work is funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Our experience proves the value of standards in promoting new technologies”, says Dr Andreas Hauser, Director of Water Services at TÜV SÜD. “Establishing common guidelines is a key step towards fostering next-generation faecal sludge treatment plants as well as engaging commercial interests”. The standard will refer to technologies that can convert waste into beneficial outputs, like electricity, biomass, water for irrigation and ash – in accordance with the resource-oriented sanitation approach. They are operated on a commercial basis and serve up to 10.000-100.000 people improving hygiene, living conditions and creating economic opportunities. For them to become accepted and adopted essential criteria need to be met concerning for example functional safety, treatment performance, occupational health or emission values. The private technical standard is to define these criteria. It is a follow-on project within the Gates Foundation’s Omni-Processor program. Beginning in November 2015 TÜV SÜD has been examining and evaluating the various requirements and possibly relevant standards for decentralized, community scale faecal sludge treatment solutions. Developing a standard now takes this work to a new level. Dr Andreas Hauser: “A private technical standard for decentralized faecal sludge treatment plants will benefit the entire value chain towards a resource-oriented sanitation approach.”

Making a difference in health and environment

One third of the world’s population has no access to functioning sanitation facilities and sewage disposal; with serious health implications such as the spread of pathogens. Even where pit latrines or sewage tanks exist, they are often not emptied. If they are emptied, the sludge is not properly disposed of but in many cases flows into lakes, rivers and seas without any treatment. This is what decentralized next-generation faecal sludge treatment technologies try to remedy. Therefore, they address the breakdown in the sanitation value chain at a different point than the “Reinventing the toilet”-project, which was also initiated by the Gates Foundation. Reinvented Toilets are small scale treatment systems as an alternative to pit latrines and other existing facilities that are often unsafe and unsustainable. Omni-Processor technologies provide more local / distributed options for treating the collected faecal sludge instead of transporting to conventional treatment plants recognizing that the existing facilities will not be entirely replaced by Reinvented Toilets.

With their international experience and interdisciplinary knowledge, TÜV SÜD contributes to making sanitation system sustainable and offers support to governments, non-governmental organizations, investors, developers and manufacturers, as well as services providers.