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Earth Day 2024: WTW Sustainability Initiatives

Membrane filters as an alternative to plastic water bottles 

Clean water is essential for life, but in times of crisis, water access is often one of the first resources lost. Many aid organizations distribute plastic water bottles, which is a helpful but short term solution that requires the use of a lot of plastic. Instead, WTW distributes membrane filters, a small, portable, and effective filter that can last for 10+ years with proper care. Membrane filters can clean up to 15 gallons of water an hour, and can purify water from a variety of sources. 1 membrane filter used in a disaster response is an alternative to 6,300 single-use plastic bottles. In 2023, WTW filters replaced over 162 million single-use plastic bottles.

In 2022, WTW invested in a portable recycling and bailing machine to ensure some single-use waste is handled effectively and removed from disaster settings. For shorter disaster response initiatives, WTW distributes canned water, and recipients are encouraged to return the cans to the centrally located recycling machine. Because aluminum is infinitely recyclable, this is a more sustainable alternative to plastic water bottles. 

Solar-powered lifting technology in Nepal

Many of the communities we work with are nestled high in the mountains, with a water source located hundreds or thousands of feet below. The journey to collect water is perilous, time consuming, and water still needs to be purified once it is brought back up the mountain. WTW worked with the Nepali government to develop a solution that was sustainable in both its technology and longevity. These communities do not have consistent electricity or any electricity at all, so solar powered pumps were a perfect solution. Community members helped install the pumps and learned how to perform maintenance to ensure personal ownership and promote the longevity and sustainability of the water system. Through utilizing solar power, WTW was able to take a naturally occurring, renewable resource and turn it into a clean water solution. Through this increased water access, communities are taking sustainability a step further. Villages are implementing groundwater recharging practices to maintain the original water source and bring awareness towards the importance of caring for their local environments.

Rainwater Harvesting in the Dominican Republic and Tanzania

WTW is committed to providing long lasting, culturally appropriate, and innovative solutions to the water crisis. In some communities in the Dominican Republic and Tanzania, we are utilizing rainwater, a naturally occurring resource, to meet people’s needs. In the Dominican Republic, rainwater harvesting tanks help solve the problem of water storage, especially during the rainy season, when usual sources are less easily available. In the Tanzanian community of Esilalei, rainwater collection is a temporary solution for a local school while a larger borehole project is completed. Each project has the goal of easy availability and water storage, and rainwater collection tanks serve both these needs and are a trusted technology by local communities. 

Bio-digester Toilets

Clean water access is deeply important for both drinking water and maintaining health and hygiene standards. The WTW Amazon team is piloting a sanitation project in the remote community of Santa Maria, where most residents use pit latrines that easily flood in the rainy season. WTW worked with residents to install a community shower, sink, and toilet that flows to a biodigester septic system. The water and waste from these facilities is combined and treated to create a fertilizer that residents can use on their crops. This closed loop system not only provides essential sanitation resources, but also reuses water and nutrients to assist in economic growth.

Sustainably-Powered Ceramic Filter Factories

WTW ceramic filters are a fascinating piece of technology with strong environmental and locational roots. In both the Dominican Republic and Tanzania, the clay is bought from nearby companies, supporting the economic ecosystem in the area. The kilns used to fire ceramic filters are powered by excess materials also locally obtained. In Tanzania, the WTW filter factory burns corn cob husks from a nearby agricultural farm, reducing waste for both the farm and factory. In the Dominican Republic, WTW is connected with local furniture factories, and purchases excess scraps to power the kilns. By using pre-existing discarded materials, WTW is able to keep the cost of the filter low while giving new life to goods that were destined for the landfill. Ceramic filters also reduce household plastic use, as they are a safe drinking water alternative to bottled water that some families may purchase. 



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