LIXIL to Pilot Household Reinvented Toilets in Partnership with the Gates Foundation

Nov 7, 2018 12:30 PM ET
Press Release

TOKYO, November 7, 2018 /3BL Media/ – LIXIL, maker of pioneering water and housing products, today announced a new partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to bring what could be the world’s first “reinvented toilet” for household use to pilot in at least two markets. LIXIL will build a team of experts in technology, design, and product development from across its global commercial organization to work jointly with a sanitation technology partner to refine and test a leading reinvented toilet prototype.

LIXIL will work with the Gates Foundation to provide commercial guidance on use cases, design specifications, and commercial tradeoffs for the household reinvented toilet, building on market research and user insights the foundation has developed to date. In parallel, LIXIL will be developing the requirements of a robust business model to inform sector-wide commercialization plans for this unique product category.

LIXIL firmly believes that new off-grid solutions can transform life for the better, and that innovation will drive this change. Flush toilets connected to sewer systems are hailed as the gold standard of the modern age. But around the world, cities are struggling to keep pace with rapid urbanization and increasing water scarcity and building or retrofitting sewer infrastructure is not always practical or even possible. The 21st century is bringing a better quality of life, providing smart, new, off-grid answers to some of humanity’s oldest challenges. Solar panels have brought reliable energy to remote regions. Mobile phones have brought instant communication to billions.

New off-grid toilet systems that can be installed anywhere and treat human waste would transform the sanitation sector as we know it today, providing millions of people with improved, flexible, safe, and convenient alternatives for managing sanitation. The aim of the pilot is to advance a prototype toward commercialization, one that can foundationally be leveraged for both the wealthy end of the market as well as for the 4.5 billion people who today do not have a safe way to manage their waste. It may be possible to soon leapfrog into a future where clean, safe sanitation is not only contributing to the environment, but is independent from a sewage system, setting a new standard for the 21st century.

LIXIL Group Corporation President, Kinya Seto, commented: “Toilets are crucial, but we know that one size does not fit all, especially when it comes to off-grid settings. Human-centric and environment-specific design is absolutely critical. As a maker of toilets from some of the most advanced shower toilets in the world to frugal but life-saving toilet models such as our SATO line of products, we are committed to harnessing innovation and design to bring sustainable sanitation to all. We are very excited to partner with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to explore how new sanitation options can provide fresh answers to growing challenges that our society is now facing, such as booming populations, rapid urbanization, and water scarcity.”

Speaking at the opening plenary of the Reinvented Toilet Expo in Beijing, Bill Gates said, “This expo showcases, for the first time, radically new, decentralized sanitation technologies and products that are business-ready. It’s no longer a question of if we can reinvent the toilet and other sanitation systems. It’s a question of how quickly this new category of off-grid solutions will scale.”

LIXIL is a global leader in the sanitary ware industry, home to global brands such as INAX, GROHE, and American Standard, with a portfolio of products that includes some of the most technologically advanced shower toilets in the world. The company is also a first mover in the off-grid sanitation space, with the launch of a range of products under its SATO brand, originally developed with support from the Gates Foundation. SATO offers safe and affordable toilet systems to those lacking basic sanitation, and so far over 1.8 million SATO units have been shipped, providing access to improved sanitation to approximately 9 million people globally.


LIXIL makes pioneering water and housing products that solve everyday, real-life challenges, making better homes a reality for everyone, everywhere. Drawing on our Japanese heritage, we create world-leading technology and innovate to make high quality products that transform homes. But the LIXIL difference is how we do this; through meaningful design, an entrepreneurial spirit, a dedication to improving accessibility for all, and responsible business growth. Our approach comes to life through industry leading brands, including INAX, GROHE, American Standard, and TOSTEM. Over 70,000 colleagues operating in more than 150 countries are proud to make products that touch the lives of more than a billion people every day.

LIXIL Group Corporation (TSE Code: 5938) is the listed holding company for LIXIL’s portfolio of businesses.