Search Icon White

ANSI Seeks Comments on Proposed New ISO Activity on Sustainable Non-Sewered Sanitation Systems


Comments due by October 16, 2015

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) together with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) plans to submit two proposals to ISO focused on sustainable non-sewered sanitation systems, also known as "next-generation toilets," a practical solution for the sanitation-related death and disease that is rampant among developing nation populations. The proposals are part of a multi-phased initiative to facilitate the development of a globally recognized consensus standard for safer, cleaner reinvented toilets.

Based on the fact that no ISO Technical Committee currently exists to address sustainable non-sewered sanitation systems, ANSI and the BMGF propose to take the first step by developing an international workshop agreement (IWA). Once developed, the IWA may serve as the basis for a new international standard developed through an ISO project committee. Since there is currently a lack of any reference document for the new technology, an IWA is proposed as the most efficient starting point.

As the U.S. member body to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), ANSI invites all interested stakeholders to submit comments on the two proposals to Steve Cornish by the end of the business day on October 16, 2015. As the IWA document states, ANSI would serve as the secretariat of record and provide logistical support for the workshop—proposed for late June 2016.

The BMGF, a private grant-making foundation based in the United States which operates in over 100 countries, has been working in the toilet technology area since 2011 and has partnered with ANSI by proposing the development of an IWA. The goal of the IWA is to achieve an international standard which contains commonly accepted criteria by which to measure the performance of reinvented toilets.

Lack of safe and private toilets across the globe is associated with violent crime and deadly diseases. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 2.5 billion people have no access to safe, clean toilets. The consequences are drastic: An estimated 1 million preventable deaths per year are associated with diseases contracted from unsanitary conditions.

Next generation "reinvented toilets" are sanitation fixtures that can help prevent disease and death. These toilets remove pathogens and do not require traditional infrastructure, such as sewer, water connection, or electricity. They also cost less than 5 cents per user, which would provide an opportunity for developing countries to utilize safer, cleaner and cost-efficient toilet alternatives.

ANSI will coordinate the initiative to facilitate the development of a globally recognized consensus document in collaboration with the BMGF. The initiative would complement and build upon related activities led by TUV SUD (an international certification organization) and will be funded by BMGF.

The new work item proposal for the project committee (NWIP) explains that a standard in this area would benefit stakeholder groups in multiple ways. It states: "For developers/manufacturers a standard provides a transparent and common basis for competition that guides innovation and is a way to attest their product quality. For purchasing bodies and end-users it provides certainty that minimal health and safety criteria are met and that performance results are comparable."

While several universities and foundations have been engaged in the reinvented toilet initiative to date, ANSI also encourages participation from national government agencies including those involved in improving public sanitation, national standards bodies, reinvented toilet prototype developers and/or commercial partners, public health and clean water NGOs, and companies, academia, and other affected stakeholders.

Access the full NWIP document, which has a suggested listing of relevant existing documents at the international, regional, and national levels.

U.S. stakeholders are also invited to re view this new proposal here and submit comments to Steve Cornish, ANSI director of international policy ([email protected]) by close of business on October 16, 2015.


Jana Zabinski

Senior Director, Communications & Public Relations


[email protected]

Beth Goodbaum

Journalist/Communications Specialist


[email protected]