Microsoft founder Bill Gates brought with him a jar of human waste when he kicked off the Reinvented Toilet expo in China on Tuesday.
According to CBS News, the philanthropist placed the jar on a pedestal next to him as he made a plea for the safe disposal of human waste during his keynote speech at the event in Beijing.
“You might guess what’s in this beaker — and you’d be right. Human feces,” Gates said.
“This small amount of feces could contain as many as 200 trillion rotavirus cells, 20 billion Shigella bacteria, and 100,000 parasitic worm eggs.”
Gates went on to say that the pathogens in the fecal matter is known to cause diseases that kill nearly 500,000 children below 5-years-old every year.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which was founded by Gates and his wife, has been working to address the world’s sanitation problems. Since 2011, the foundation has spent more than $200 million to improve research and development of safe sanitation technologies.
According to the foundation, about 4.5 billion people, or more than half of the world’s population, practice either open defecation or use unsafe sanitation services and facilities.
It also attributed poor sanitation as a chief contributor to waterborne disease such as diarrhea, which has killed half a million in 2016 alone. Deaths from diarrhea primarily occur in South Asia and sub-Saharan Asia.
“Solving the sanitation challenge in the developing world will require breakthrough innovations in technologies as well as systems that are practical, cost-effective, and replicable on a large scale,” the foundation said.
“Building and proving these new models is difficult, but the potential benefits, in human health, economic growth, and dignity are enormous.”
More than 20 companies and academic institutions showcased their new toilet technologies in the three-day expo.
In his speech, Gates said that these technologies are the most significant advances in sanitation in nearly two centuries.
The billionaire and the expo itself continue to focus on the need for toilets that process human waste sans the need for water-fed sewers, which has been a concern because of water shortages and lack of infrastructure in many places around the world.
The technologies displayed at the event ranged from self-contained toilets to self-powered waste treatment plan and were intended to destroy harmful bacteria and prevent diseases.
BBC said that these products aim to revolutionize sanitation technology by operating off-grid to separate solid waste and liquid, and remove dangerous by-products.
Gates reportedly left the jar of poop on display for about 10 minutes before removing it after he has made his point.