(Bloomberg) — The U.S. hasn’t done much about it, as fuck as it is.
Wasted, a Burlington and Vermont-based startup, wants to change that. The three-year-old company collects human waste from portable toilets and transports it to a treatment center, where it is treated with a nutrient recovery process to create fertilizer. On Wednesday, Wasted announced that he has raised $7.5 million in seed stage funding from investors including Collaborative Fund, Divergent Capital, Day One Ventures, Third Sphere, Pure Ventures and Gratitude Railroad.
The funds will be used for Wasted’s first pilot program, which includes 200 porta toilets at a construction site in Burlington. Solid waste from the modified portapot will be taken to a facility near Williston and processed into a nitrogen-rich fertilizer intended to reduce the runoff of phosphorus that causes algal blooms in Lake Champlain. .
Brophy Tyree, co-founder and CEO of Wasted, said:
Wasted’s portable toilet costs about $200, about the same as the older version, Tyree said, and is part of what’s known as “container-based hygiene.” A generic term for toilet systems that collect human waste into containers and transport the waste for treatment at a treatment facility. The idea of turning waste into fertilizer, a cost-effective solution in densely populated cities and countries with limited sewage infrastructure, is now being explored by emerging European companies such as Sweden’s Sanitation 360 and France’s Toopi Organics. It attracts the attention of companies. Tyree’s goal is to bring this idea to the United States.
“We decided to do it here because it’s not done here now,” he says. “We saw an opportunity to stand on the shoulders of giants who really pioneered it in other countries.”
In areas where sewage systems are already in place, container-based sanitation is environmentally friendly. Such systems generally use less water, and converting human waste into fertilizer is especially useful amid rising fertilizer prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Another selling point for him, as Tyree points out, is a better-smelling bathroom experience.
Co-founded by Tyree, Taylor Zehren and Thor Retzlaff in 2020, Wasted is a non-profit organization Do Good launched in 2018 by the founding team after discovering an exorbitant amount of human waste during a mountaineering trip. I grew up from Sh*t. Do Good Sh*t provides restrooms and other sanitary facilities near popular outdoor destinations.
Wasted is starting with a similarly narrow focus, but they already have big plans. The startup is eyeing other venues with portable toilets, including campgrounds, concerts and outdoor events, and aims to expand to a second city in 2024. Wasted plans to tailor its fertilizer to local needs, Tyree said, and has even applied for a toilet patent. Liquids can be analyzed from solids.
But first, Wasted has to overcome the ick factor. Rebecca Nelson, a biologist at Cornell University, said the company has many notable international examples, but it may be difficult to introduce container-based hygiene to American consumers. increase.
In that regard, the lack of US competition could help. Cities including Chicago and Tacoma, Washington already have programs to produce fertilizer from sewage waste, but Wasted has few direct competitors in the container-based sanitary space.
“That’s the opportunity. There’s a lot of value in the table,” says Nelson. “It’s just a boost of nutritional value.”
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