We strive to create a future where sanitation issues are a thing of the past, a future where one third of the world’s population no longer has to worry about where to go to the bathroom, and a future where excreta is not just dumped but used to provide energy. We want to use the power of a new business venture to create a future that is better for the planet and its people.
To have a future, we must look at our present. According to WHO and UNICEF, 2.6 billion people lack access to adequate sanitation. Target 7.C of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) is to halve, by 2015, the number of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation, which countries are in danger of not meeting. The absence of clean drinking water, sanitation and hygiene has been estimated by the WHO to cause 88% of all cases of diarrhea. Diarrheal diseases contribute to more than 1.5 million deaths per year, mostly among children and cause the annual loss of 443 million schooldays worldwide. Providing adequate sanitation can reduce diarrheal diseases by 36%. For every dollar invested in sanitation and water supply, benefits can be valued at between $5 and $46. It would cost an estimated $95 billion to achieve universal sanitation by 2015, but it would save as much as $660 billion.
We are creating this future by designing a toilet that is waterless and odorless. The patent-pending Dungaroo uses specially-lined plastic bags that kill pathogens within excreta. Each “flush” seals the bag and drops them into a base container. We developed a way to retro-fit the Dungaroo for existing porta-potties. Research shows that for sanitation to be accepted in developing countries, it must be used in developed countries such as the United States. We will use a minimum 10% of our profits to get the Dungaroo in developing countries as a sanitation solution.
Liz Morris, our founder, started graduate school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill knowing that she loved packaging (bottles, boxes, etc), but wanted to learn about sustainable packaging. Little did she know that it would lead her down the path to starting her own company. Liz spent her Masters researching sanitation and how packaging materials such as plastic bags could make a better toilet that could benefit people in developing countries where water and infrastructure are not always readily available. She spent her summers in Peru, leading focus groups on sanitation practices to learn about consumer preferences. She started working on a design while working on her thesis and realized that this was her future. She wanted to take this toilet design and make it a company. Liz simply wanted to help the world, one toilet at a time.
Liz first approached Dan and got him involved as the finance expert. She knew she needed an engineer to help figure the mechanics of the Dungaroo and found Evan through a professor at NCSU. Matt and Michael were brought on for marketing and communications and the team was born. First, we had to learn how to run a business and we were chosen to participate in the Launch the Venture program at UNC-CH. It taught and helped us to write our business plan and a plan to involve investors.
Now, it’s been over a year since we have incorporated and we are making tremendous strides. We submitted the provisional patent application for the Dungaroo and its bags. We are working on prototypes and getting ready to approach manufacturers. In May, 2012, we won the Cherokee Challenge earning our first investment through the Cherokee Investment Partners.
Someone should support us because we are growing our company in the principles of a B Corporation, focusing on the three principles of sustainability: planet, people, and profits. We will use this money to help with development of the bag that is required for the Dungaroo, which will help us reach the market soon.