There are many drinking water sources worldwide, but most of these reservoirs are polluted and are deemed unfit for drinking or cooking. Startups are focusing on devising new techniques to acquire clean drinking water at reasonable costs for developing nations.

The scope of water solutions spans over sanitation and hygiene sectors as well. Scientists have warned us about water scarcity and the importance of devising new ways to conserve water for drinking and cleaning purposes.

Startups play an important role in introducing new ideas for sustainable water solutions. Let’s look at some of these renowned startups doing remarkable work conserving water and providing workable solutions.

1. 4life Solutions

It is a Danish-based startup, initiated by Alexander Locke that provides clean drinking water to underprivileged communities. The plastic bag (SaWa) uses a unique SODIS (solar water disinfection) method. The advanced technology used in its manufacturing only needs sunlight to purify the water – removing all dangerous pathogens. Fill the bag with 4 liters of water and leave it out in the sunlight for a few hours. Yes, that’s all you need to get the affordable (about $3/bag), reusable (up to a year), and clean drinking water.

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2. Hilico

The first successful rainwater collecting startup has shown that it is not that difficult or expensive to collect and filter rainwater. In 2016, Eyal and Moshe cofounded this revolutionary initiative. This startup made an environment-friendly, portable, and cost-effective system that holds, filter, and store rainwater. The ultralight light design (which only weighs 2 lb) has maximum efficiency and the ability to withstand wind. It is easy to install (it needs only 2 minutes) and doesn’t take much space. The contaminants like large debris and leaves are filtered through an advanced filtration unit, ensuring safe drinking water. The best part is that it is a step forward to saving the planet as it conserves natural resources without using electricity.

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3. change: WATER Labs

Diana Yousef is the brain behind this startup, founded back in 2013. Improper plumbing (or no sewage pumping) is a significant limitation in installing clean toilets in many underdeveloped areas. iThrone is a solution to this problem as it’s a waste shirking toilet suitable to install in places with poor plumbing. These toilets don’t need a flush system providing sustainable waterless sanitation. This idea is inspired by nature itself – the phenomenon of evapotranspiration in plants. The onsite waste removal is facilitated using two technologies: (1) a layer of evaporative material capable of removing (forming pure water vapors) 90-95% of human waste; (2) a battery-powered system generating electricity using urine.

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4. Ekam Eco Solutions

This India-based company, founded in 2013, has introduced many eco-friendly and sustainable ecological sanitation products. Zerodor waterless urinal technology is one of their most renowned initiatives, followed by CARE Natural Housekeeping & Home Care Solutions. These waterless urinals prove that we don’t need to waste tons of water to eliminate the foul smell. Did you know that microbes and other pathogens thrive in the damp urinal systems? The two natural cleaners available with Zerodor Waterless Urinal Kit have been specially designed to eliminate bacteria and foul smells without using (perhaps wasting) water.

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5. Desolenator

The world’s first solar thermal desalination technology introduced in 2014 by William Janssen is blooming. The energy from the Sun drives the plant to purify water by removing excess salts. The water obtained through this initiative is not free (sold at reasonable rates), which seems discouraging. However, there is a bright side to it which is more employment. The company aims to employ more women, tackle poverty and women empowerment, and the availability of clean drinking water.  

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6. ElentecEC

This initiative started in 2012 and has introduced a cost-effective and modular water treatment plan. It is applicable in different industries like agriculture, aquaculture, fish farms, automotive, anaerobic digestion, mining, etc. It efficiently removes toxic metals from waste streams and mine water runoff. ElentecEC also improves water quality and chemistry and treats effluents at fish farms. It is an alternative to traditional chemical water treatment ways, using safe and stable metal plates. The Electro-Coagulation applications proposed by these clean technologies limit the Health & Safety constraints. Additionally, this cost-effective system has disaster recovery units using sustainable power sources to acquire pure drinking water.

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7. Watergen

It is an India-based startup established in 2009 by Arye Kohavi. This award-winning initiative is a genius as it manages to capture water vapors from the atmosphere and convert them into clean drinking water. The food-grade polymers are used in the composition of this first heat exchanger, making it eco-friendly. Watergen is available in more than 65 countries with the aim of global reach. Each Watergen product has its capacity to produce fresh drinking water depending upon its size and structure. It also works efficiently in areas of low humidity.

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8. Wallaby Water

It is an Australian startup launched in 2019. Sustainable water packaging solutions proposed by this brand can potentially replace plastic packaging. They use 100% recyclable aluminum packaging filled with clean drinking water. Both products, the spring still water and Sparkling Water are sourced from the pristine springs of Mt Buninyong (Australia). A dash of carbon is added to the sparkling water to keep thoughts bubbling. In addition to water from natural springs filtered by nature and packaged in safe cans, they donate 10% of each purchase to save wildlife.

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9. Thinkphi

It is a Singapore-based start-up established in 2015. It has installed innovative units that collect rainwater during monsoons and harvest solar energy to generate electricity. They claim that they’ve gathered over 500 million liters of rainwater. The system used to collect rainwater is named ‘Ulta Chaata,’ inspired by a tree. This smartly engineered product also filters the collected rainwater producing gallons of clean drinking water.

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10. Swajal WaterATM

This startup was launched in the year 2014 by Vibha Tripathi in India. It is precisely what it sounds like, an automated water service available 24/7 providing clean drinking water. This innovative water solution has been initiated in countries like India, Uganda, and Bangladesh (where clean drinking water is a big problem). It is not the most accessible solution as it is not a free service; however, the charges are very affordable. It could easily be installed in hospitals, schools, colleges, urban slums, and metro stations. This startup aims to make clean drinking water equitable.

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11. Uravu Labs

This startup was initiated in 2019 by Swapnil Shrivastav, Sandeep Nutakki, and Venkatesh R. The water available in the atmosphere is a free and renewable source utilized by this initiative to overcome water poverty. Uravu is a startup that provides 100% renewable water (soured from atmospheric water vapors) powered by renewable energy resources. It operates on environment-friendly alternatives like solar power, biomass waste, and Waste-heat for industries. Not a single water droplet is wasted in this eco-friendly process.

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12. 3Sindia

It is an India-based startup established by Rajeev Kher. Saraplast provides portable, clean, and environment-friendly toilets that could be installed at any place like festivals. They provide innovative models of sanitation and aim to leave a large positive impact on the environment. They have more than 10,453,600 users with 3000+ events executed across India. Urinals, bio-toilets, and hand wash stations are also available to rent. It is a promising initiative that should get promoted at the international level.

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Many startups have proposed viable, cost-effective, and environment-friendly alternatives to conserve water. Poor sanitation, hygiene, and limited water resources negatively impact public health and the economy. Government should play a leading role in helping these startups grow and prosper. After all, we all depend on clean water to survive.

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