This guest blog post is from Sanjay Banka. At PHLUSH, we’ve been tracking some of the cool new technologies in India. After noticing the social enterprise awards won by Banka BioLoo, we suggested they write for our readers.
Mixing business with socio-environmental good is the way of life at India’s Banka BioLoo, a firm pioneering bio-toilets. Founder Namita Banka is dedicated to the mission of providing affordable, effective and safe toilet systems and solutions.
The bio-toilets are based on the bio-digester technology developed by Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), an Indian government agency. These bio-toilets dispose the human waste in an environmentally friendly manner, save energy, conserve water and produce bio-gas. Suited to all geographic terrains and areas and environmental conditions, the bio-toilets are a strong solution for the 600 million toilet-less Indians. Yes, half of India’s population doesn’t have access to adequate sanitation and people are forced to defecate in the open, posing health hazards, raising environmental concerns and leading to water contamination.
The bio-toilet system provides basic, easy-to-install and hygienic human waste disposal mechanism for areas without wastewater treatment plants while addressing the need for a cheaper and easy-to-operate alternative to the traditional waste disposal system. In a holistic approach, bio-toilets are very cost-effective. The fecal matter is treated at source; the household is not dependent on an external infrastructure for waste transportation and treatment. It eases the burden on the central waste treatment system such as sewage treatment plants in urban areas.
Completing the water and nutrient loop the bio-toilet generates colorless, odorless inflammable bio-gas that can be used for cooking, heating etc. and clear odorless water, which is full of nutrients and minerals and is extremely good for irrigation or gardening. Bio-toilet prevents diseases, and deaths caused by water-borne diseases.
Indian Railways currently deploys open-chute system wherein the fecal matter drops on the rail tracks, causing corrosion, thetas to public health and immense ecological damage. The Railways is adapting this new technology; and specialized multi-chambered stainless steel bio-tanks are being fitted to the train toilets. The bio-tank contains the bacterial culture that treats the human waste, releasing clean effluent water and methane.
Banka BioLoo has a bio-tank manufacturing facility and an inoculation plant for breeding the bacteria. Working closely with the Indian Railways, the firm supplies bio-tanks as also has an operations and maintenance contract to service these tanks. The senior team members have worked on various toilet technologies, for example the CDTS (controlled discharge toilet system), and have gained substantial understanding of the varying needs, and provide customizable innovative solutions.
In the past two years Banka has deployed bio-toilets in Indian villages such as Dhamra, in eastern state of Odisha, in Rudraram, in southern state of Andhra Pradesh; has worked with enthusiastic student members of Engineers Without Borders. The Indian subsidiary of International Paper Company, too, has had bio-toilets installed at its paper mills. Bioloos have been installed at onsite facilities of construction companies such as Shapoorji Pallonji and L&T Metro Rail in Hyderabad. Banka BioLoo also upgrades septic tanks of houses, schools and universities to bio-tanks. The firm has tied up with Shelter Associates (Google Earth Hero), a Pune (in western state of Maharashtra) based-NGO to provide bioloos in urban slums. Mobile bio-toilets have been supplied to organizations for exhibitions, open-air events as also municipal bodies such as the Balurghat Municipality in West Bengal, a state in eastern India. The 8-seater mobile unit is used in fairs, exhibitions and similar occasions.
Our firm is winner of prestigious national and international awards, including the Sankalp 2013 Healthcare Water & Sanitation Award, Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards 2013, Changing Markets Award 2013 and others, the company seeks to eradicate the malaise of open defecation in India.