Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Will dog waste make Israel a world-class humanitarian?

Dog waste is dirt. There’s nothing remotely humanitarian about it.

It’s a problem, not a solution because too many dog owners don’t pick up after their dogs. They leave it behind.

How can dog dirt help humanity? It’s a waste, so to speak, not a benefit.

But in Israel, dog waste is different. It’s a stepping stone to help mankind.   
One day in Tel Aviv several years ago, a dog owner was caught in flagrante delicto—in the very act of allowing his pug, Paulee, to poop in public with no clean-up. That dog owner collected a fine for his negligence (Abigail Klein Leichman, “What goes down the drain can sustain the whole building”, israel21c, December 11, 2016). That fine annoyed him. So he did what lots of Israelis do in such a situation: he called a friend.

His friend was Prof. Oded Shoseyov of Hebrew University (ibid). He’s a renowned biotech inventor (“A welcome scoop…”, ibid). The dog owner asked him, could the Professor solve a messy poop problem?  

The Professor could. But his solution was as crazy as the request. He would help, all right. But he would focus on the pooper-scooper, not just the poop.

The Professor’s solution was a pooper-scooper with a difference (ibid). After it gathered the droppings, it would turn them into a dry, odorless, sterile powder (ibid). All the dog-walker had to do was push a button to release an ‘activation capsule’ from a cartridge inside the unit (ibid): no muss, no fuss and, most important, no smelly mess.  Instead of having to move a smelly mess from one place to another, the owner solved his poopy problem hands-free, by having his pooper-scooper transform the poop chemically into an odorless powder before his dog-walk ended (“What goes down…”, ibid).

If I understand how this story has unfolded, that pooper-scooper concept helped start the company, Paulee CleanTec (named, no doubt, after the pug who’d pooped in Tel Aviv). Co-founded by Professor Shoseyov in 2008, Paulee CleanTec not only cleans up pet waste, but also livestock waste and human waste (Paulee CleanTec, homepage). Such waste management is important to mankind: each year, more than 200 million tons of human waste world-wide goes untreated (Paulee CleanTec homepage, the problem, human waste). As a result, perhaps 800,000 children a year die from water-contamination issues (ibid). Paulee CleanTec, named after a pooping pug, uses an Israeli-born technology to save lives.

But Paulee CleanTec isn’t the end of this story; waste management, while crucial to human survival, just doesn’t make it to ‘humanitarianism’. That step up belongs to someone else.

In 2013, our hero (Paulee CleanTec co-founder Professor Shoseyov) wowed some 1,600 delegates at an American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) National Summit in California with his chemical scooper (“What goes down…”, ibid). His presentation attracted one of the attendees, engineer Igor Tartakovsky (ibid), who is today president of a company called, CB engineering, which designs, among other things, waste and plumbing systems. This Tartakovsky told his entrepreneur son Aaron about the Professor’s pooper-scooper. Aaron then wondered if this concept could be scaled up into a system for a high-rise building (ibid).  

Israelis might be slightly crazy. But this idea isn’t crazy at all. The amount of potable water available worldwide to support human life is shrinking. Buildings worldwide consume a full 14% of all potable water—and little, if any of it, is recycled (ibid). There’s a lot of good drinking water in this world that—if you’ll pardon the expression—gets flushed down the toilet.

That thought led Israeli Aaron Tartakovsky to co-found Epic CleanTec and to become part of another start-up called, Israeli-California Green-Tech Partnership (ICGTP). Epic CleanTec develops systems that separate out an entire building’s solid waste from the wastewater stream and converts it into dry, odorless nuggets (sound familiar?) (ibid)—while recycling the water portion of a flush for re-use in more toilet-flushing and for a building’s cooling towers (Epic CleanTec, homepage). ICGTP, meanwhile, works to get this (and other ‘green’ projects) done (“What goes…”, ibid).

Today, Epic CleanTec is working with Israel-California Partnership to install recycling systems into commercial (and high-rise residential) buildings in San Francisco. That’s an important opportunity because San Francisco has become the first US city to pass an ordinance requiring large buildings to recycle their water (ibid).

Several years ago, a dog owner got fined when his pug Paulee pooped in public. Now, because of that fine, Israeli innovations could turn every tall building into its own sewage treatment and water recycling center. That would help preserve the world’s drinking water, too much of which is now diverted to toilets.

Israel has a world-class reputation for using innovative technologies to help mankind solve a growing water [and waste management] crisis (David Hazony, “How Israel Is Solving the Global Water Crisis”, thetower, October 2015). In its own way, those innovations are practical humanitarianism at its best.

For Israelis, nothing is wasted. Any human experience can provoke the creation of technologies that help humanity---even a dog-poop fine.

Will dog waste be the catalyst that helps Israel replace Amnesty International as the world-class humanitarian? It might. After all, this is Israel—the land of miracles.

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