The Tiger Toilet Turns Waste into Fertilizer

ROLLINSFORD, New Hampshire – As of 2021, the world population is estimated to be approximately 7.8 billion people. At the same time, the world population without access to a safe and sanitary latrine is estimated at around four billion people. This means that more than half of the people on earth do not have access to safe and reliable sanitation. As a result, open defecation remains a common practice in many parts of developing countries. This practice results in a contaminated water supply that accelerates the spread of disease. Fortunately, the Tiger toilet hygiene system offers a possible solution.

The Tiger toilet hygiene system

Traditional toilets rely on water treatment systems and septic tanks, which are expensive to install and maintain. The Tiger toilet is unique in that it makes both infrastructures superfluous and at the same time adheres to high safety standards.

The way it works is simple yet innovative. Instead of litter falling into a bowl of water, it falls into a bin full of tiger worms. In nature, tiger worms rely on the droppings of domesticated animals such as cattle and horses to survive. You will feel just as comfortable in a Tiger toilet as you are in the field. The worms do not try to escape as their survival depends on the waste. The worms process the waste by converting it into water, carbon dioxide and compost. The final waste product has little odor and can actually be used as fertilizer.

The science

Pathogens cause disease and bacteria to spread. They are a big reason why open defecation is such a dangerous practice. With the Tiger toilet, 99% of pathogens are no longer present in the final waste product. The worms reduce the waste to no more than 15% of its original volume. The only other by-products are water and carbon dioxide. To put this into perspective, even septic tanks in industrialized countries cannot come up with such statistics. The Tiger toilet is very safe, although it uses little technology.

The advantages

In addition to the environmental benefits, Tiger Toilet solves two other major problems. The first problem is maintenance. Standard plumbing systems require constant maintenance. When introduced into developing areas of the world, communities are not always properly trained in maintaining the systems or simply lack the money and manpower. Tiger toilets at the age of five when they were first implemented did not require any maintenance.

In developing countries like India there is a lack of domestic toilets, so people use communal toilets. Women are often ridiculed and harassed in communal toilets. These women then resort to open defecation, which is dangerous for health reasons. Research shows that women in India who have open bowel movements are twice as likely to be sexually molested or assaulted as women with a household toilet. Tiger toilet hygiene systems can be easily installed on residential buildings, reducing the need for shared toilet facilities or open defecation.


Interest in the Tiger toilet has remained high since it debuted in 2015. Microsoft CEO Bill Gates and his wife Melinda Gates donated nearly $ 5 million to research and develop the project. USAID also contributed $ 170,000 for the initial tests of the toilet. With this help, Tiger Toilet is now only $ 350. For comparison, the average toilet in the US costs around $ 500. In addition to the low cost, the user can quickly set up the toilet in a day.

Go forward

Currently, India is the main market for the Tiger toilet, especially rural communities. Other markets are Uganda and Myanmar. To date, more than 4,500 toilets have been installed in India alone. The biggest obstacle to the tiger toilet is the availability of a sufficient amount of worms.

This technology can be really revolutionary for developing countries. It enables a safe and hygienic alternative to open defecation. Once a society’s most basic needs are met, it enables growth in other areas. The Tiger toilet plumbing system has the potential to address the centuries-old global problem of inadequate plumbing.

– Jake Hill
Photo: Flickr

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