For all its crap, the US is not doing much with it.
Wasted, a start-up based in Burlington, Vermont, is hoping to change that. The three-year-old company collects human waste from portable toilets and transports it to a processing center, where the excrement is treated through a nutrient recovery process to create fertilizer.
On Wednesday, Wasted announced US$7.5 million in seed-stage funding from investors that include Collaborative Fund, Divergent Capital, Day One Ventures, Third Sphere, Pure Ventures and Gratitude Railroad.
The funding is to go to Wasted’s first pilot program, involving 200 porta potties on construction sites in Burlington. Solid waste from the retrofitted toilets would be transported to a nearby facility in Williston to be processed into a nitrogen-rich fertilizer aimed at reducing the phosphorus run-off that creates algae bloom on Lake Champlain.
“What we’re building through the porta potty industry is distributed, climate-resilient sanitation that can be deployed everywhere that it’s needed,” Wasted cofounder and CEO Brophy Tyree said.
Wasted’s porta potties — which at US$200 cost about as much as the traditional version, according to Tyree — are part of what is known as “container-based sanitation.” It is a catch-all term for toilet systems that collect human waste in containers, then transport the excreta for processing at treatment facilities.
As a cost-effective solution in densely populated cities and countries with limited sewage infrastructure, turning waste into fertilizer is attracting the attention of start-ups in Europe, including Sweden’s Sanitation 360 and France’s Toopi Organics. Tyree’s goal is to bring the idea to the US.
“We chose to do it here because it’s not currently being done here,” Tyree said. “We saw the opportunity to stand on the shoulders of giants who really pioneered it in other countries.”
For locales with sewage systems in place, the draw of container-based sanitation is environmental. Such systems generally use less water, and converting human waste into fertilizer is particularly useful amid inflated fertilizer prices after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Another selling point is having a bathroom environment that smells better, Tyree said.
Cofounded in 2020 by Tyree, Taylor Zehren and Thor Retzlaff, Wasted grew out of a nonprofit called Do Good Shit, which the founding team launched in 2018 after noticing exorbitant amounts of human waste during mountaineering trips. Do Good Shit provides toilets and other sanitation facilities near popular outdoor destinations.
Wasted is starting with an equally narrow focus, but has big plans. The start-up is eyeing other venues with portable toilets — including camping sites, concerts and outdoor events — and looking to expand into a second city next year.
Wasted plans to tailor its fertilizer to local needs and has also filed a patent for a toilet that can parse liquids from solids, Tyree said.
First, though, Wasted must overcome the “ick factor.”
While the company has many international examples to look to, Cornell University biologist Rebecca Nelson said it might struggle to introduce container-based sanitation to US consumers.
In that respect, the dearth of US competition could help. Cities such as Chicago and Tacoma, Washington, already have programs that produce fertilizer from sewage waste, but Wasted has few direct competitors in the container-based sanitation space.
“That’s why it’s an opportunity. There’s a lot of value on the table,” Nelson said. “It’s straight up nutrient value.”
AI TREND: TSMC has been rapidly expanding capacity to meet a spike in demand for advanced packaging services, but still expects supplies to be tight for 18 months Arizona is in talks with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) about advanced chip packaging, state Governor Katie Hobbs said yesterday, which is crucial for the manufacturing of artificial intelligence (AI) chips. TSMC, which is building a US$40 billion chip factory in the US state, has not announced plans to build facilities for advanced chip packaging in the US. Advanced packaging processes stitch multiple chips together into a single device, lowering the added cost of more powerful computing. “Part of our efforts at building the semiconductor ecosystem is focusing on advanced packaging, so we have several things in the works around that
NXP Semiconductors NV expects its first automotive-grade 5-nanometer chip built by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) to become available for automakers within one-and-a-half years at the earliest, following demand for better computing performance and energy efficiency for connected vehicles, a company executive said yesterday. That would mean a significant upgrade from the 16-nanometer technology NXP adopted in its existing series of microprocessors. NXP chief technology executive Lars Reger made the remarks during a media briefing yesterday in Taipei. The latest updates came after NXP unveiled its plan to source 5-nanometer capacity from TSMC in 2021. This is Reger’s first trip to
Tailwinds: Blockbuster earnings at Nvidia Corp have sparked hopes of a tech sector boom; Taiwanese chipmakers are hopeful benefits will come to them too The worst could be over for the New Taiwan dollar as China’s economic recovery and a rebound in the chip industry will support the beleaguered currency, analysts said. The NT dollar is on course to weaken for a sixth month, the longest stretch since 2006, after foreign funds turned sour on its technology sector and risk sentiment deteriorated on slower growth in China. The tide seems to be turning now on nascent signs of stabilization in China’s economy — its biggest trading partner — following policy boosts. The yuan emerged as the best-performing Asian currency last week, followed by the Japanese yen
The European Commission’s digital chief yesterday said that murky Chinese laws were fueling concerns among foreign firms in the country, following discussions with Beijing officials about critical areas such as artificial intelligence (AI) and data governance. Vera Jourova, who is also the commission’s vice president, made the comments after meeting on Monday with Chinese counterparts including Vice Premier Zhang Guoqing (張國清) in the second “High-level Digital Dialogue” between the two sides. Among the concerns Jourova said she had heard about from European businesses in China was the “unpredictability of the decisions and interpretation of the laws by the regulators.” Beijing has recently implemented