Ashley Murray

In developing countries, environmental arguments for keeping rivers clean sometimes just aren’t feasible. So entrepreneur Ashley Murray decided to create a financial incentive for cleaning up wastewater. She says her graduate work was spent trying to quantify the financial benefits of reuse and harnessing the resources in human waste. Murray proved that what most people think of as a waste product can be a valuable resource — when used in the right way.

Her company, Waste Enterprisers, is doing just that. In making clean water a byproduct of a smart financial decision, Waste Enterprisers is changing the way urban municipalities in developing countries handle their wastewater. Municipalities are able to turn the embedded energy in fecal sludge into a harvestable resource. The project began in Accra, Ghana, but Murray has plans to expand to more countries in West Africa within the next five years.

But her company focuses on more than just turning wastewater into energy — they’re turning it into food, too. “It’s so illogical that we produce synthetic chemicals for fertilizers, while totally destroying our rivers by dumping this nutrient-rich wastewater into them,” she says. Waste Enterprisers created a self-sustaining aquaculture fish farm without any extra food, just using the nutrients found in wastewater.

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