Sustainable sanitation systems support a safer world: They can reuse waste to safely enhance agriculture, and can reduce and capture emissions for greener energy. Ahead of the United Nations' World Toilet Day on November 19, which focuses on the 2020 theme, "Sustainable sanitation and climate change," the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) recognizes the efforts to achieve several international standards that have revolutionized sustainable toilet systems.
How Can Toilets Support a Safer, More Sustainable World?
Every day, climate change and environmental outcomes that come with the territory such as floods, droughts, and rising sea levels pose a threat to existing global sanitation systems. A growing number of international communities are experiencing super floods amid climate change, which is taking a toll on sanitation systems, which include toilets, septic tanks, and treatment plants. And statistics are cause for concern: The UN reports that globally, 80% of the wastewater generated by society flows back into the ecosystem without being treated or reused. As the world reacts to the pandemic, sustainable sanitation, together with clean water and handwashing facilities, is essential to help protect and maintain the health security of the world, and stop the spread of deadly infectious diseases—including COVID-19, cholera, and typhoid. (Read more from the UN)
As the United Nations' World Toilet Day drives awareness about the importance of toilets, and recognizes impact of the 4.2 billion people living without access to safely managed sanitation, ANSI, the U.S. member body to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) recognizes several ISO standards that directly contribute to the 2020 World Toilet Day theme.
Several standards developed over the past four years also support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, which aims to achieve sanitation for all by 2030. The Sustainable Development Goals are a collection of 17 global goals, adopted by world leaders in September 2015 at a historic UN Summit designed to be a "blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all."
Standards that Support Sustainable Sanitation and Climate Change
A recently published voluntary international product standard, ISO 31800, Faecal sludge treatment units - Energy independent, prefabricated, community-scale, resource recovery units - Safety and performance requirements, is intended to safely treat fecal sludge in places where neither wastewater systems nor suitable wastewater treatment plants exist. The standard specifies requirements and test methods to ensure safety, performance, and sustainability of prefabricated fecal sludge treatment units that serve approximately (but not limited to) 1,000 to 100,000 people. Ultimately, pre-fabricated fecal sludge treatment units will help to improve human living conditions, reduce air and water pollution, and reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases for a more sustainable future.
ANSI, together with the National Body of Senegal (ASN) administer the secretariat for ISO Project Committee (PC) 318, the group that developed the standard—with participants from 29 nations.
Another international standard ISO 30500, Non-sewered sanitation systems – Prefabricated integrated treatment units – General safety and performance requirements for design and testing, supports the development and use of new non-sewered sanitation systems for prefabricated integrated treatment units that are not attached to a sewer. It features general safety and performance requirements for product design and performance testing. The standard supports better and safer toilets in areas where infrastructure such as sewers, plumbing, and electricity are not available.
In 2016, ANSI as the U.S. member body to ISO, twinned with ASN (the National Body of Senegal), to serve as the Secretariat of ISO Project Committee (PC) 305 on Sustainable non-sewered sanitation systems – the committee responsible for the development of ISO 30500. The standard aims to "reinvent the toilet" and set international performance criteria for consumer- level, household scale toilets.
The experts on the committee represented industry, government, academia, and non-governmental organizations. ISO PC 305 created the standard to establish a common set of goals that manufacturers can use as they reinvent toilet technology. Since its publication, ANSI has been working to make the standard widely available, promoting national recognition and implementation in regions with vast human population – including China, South Asia, and Africa.
Two other standards that support sustainability include ISO 46001, Water efficiency management systems – Requirements with guidance for use, which aims to help organizations of all sizes and status be more water-efficient. ISO 24521, Activities relating to drinking water and wastewater services – Guidelines for the management of basic on-site domestic wastewater services, offers the practical guidance required for designing and building such facilities as well as training the people who are destined to use them.
ISO reports that the ISO 24521 standard will be supported by ISO 24525, Activities relating to drinking water and wastewater services – Guidelines for the management of basic onsite domestic wastewater services – Operations and maintenance activities, which is currently in development.
For more information about how ANSI supports World Toilet Day, see news articles: