Student & Unilever
In Product Collaboration

Glenn Kitchener’s final year project, at the University of Central Lancashire, was working in collaboration with Unilever to design a cleaning system for portable toilets. We caught up with Glenn at New Designers earlier this year to find out more about the project.

The Uniloos are basic toilets provided to low-income families in Kumsai, Ghana, by the local start-up toilet service Clean Team. This is part of The Ghanasan Project, a collaboration between UnileverWSUP and IDEO to develop new products and services for in-home sanitation in the area. The quality and health of family life has been improved, as it means people no longer have to queue to use overcrowded and dirty communal facilities.

However the Uniloos use a waste cartridge, which is collected on a regular basis and manually cleaned by the service providers. It’s an unpleasant, laborious task, which can pose a health risk, as they are in direct contact with faeces and urine.

Also, with the need for repetitive bending, this work is hard on the backs of workers. Glenn was tasked with making the process more hygienic and less labour intensive.

The solution Glenn devised is the ‘Tri-Cleaner’. It’s semi-automated, using jet-wash technology, and is powered by an on-site generator. The system has few moving parts and materials, and is able to be easily manufactured in Africa.

To avoid workers having to bend, the machine is controlled with a pressure sensitive foot-pedal and provides a 3 stage cleaning process, one for each circle on a rotator. There’s a light rinse, hard clean and a final rinse, with each stage taking 10-15 seconds.  Waste-water is then drained out into a large tanker container.

Glenn’s design reduces the time involved, improves the efficiency of the cleaning process and removes the health hazards for workers.

Take a look at the video above to see how the toilets are improving the lives of the people who use them in Ghana.