As a youngster, Liz Morris wrote, “When I go to work, I want to be the boss because I own the company.” This precursor to her career was forgotten until Morris’ dad recently found the writing in a box of her childhood artwork. Today at age 28, she is founder and CEO of Sanitation Creations, an entrepreneurial start-up company making Dungaroo toilets.
At 30 pounds, the eco-friendly, self-contained portable toilet is odorless, waterless and made in America. When the Dungaroo is flushed, an anti-microbial pellet drops into the holding bag to treat the waste; a mechanism crimps the used bag and lowers it into the base storage drawer as the new bag is pulled into place. Simple. Use the toilet. Depress the foot pedal to close the lid and flush. The toilet is ready for the next user. No plumbing pipes. No electricity. No water.
With a bachelor’s degree in Packaging Science, Morris needed a project for her master’s degree in Environmental Sciences and Engineering. Her professor, who had just returned from working with the World Health Organization, asked Morris, “How would you feel about packaging poop?” She researched with Engineers Without Borders on their worldwide water and sanitation projects. She found a Swedish non-profit which developed a bag to collect waste, and traveled to Peru to learn the needs and wants in a developing country.
By graduation, she decided, “this is something that could work,” and started a business plan. Twenty-plus drawings and four prototypes later, Morris had her toilet, which needed a name. She consulted friends and fellow students in her Entrepreneurial class at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “We were sitting around, tossing out names and ideas, but nothing clicked,” said Morris. “Then one of my friends, and I don’t remember which one, said Dungaroo. It made me laugh so hard. It was perfect.”
At 18x18x20 inches, each Dungaroo supply kit accommodates 30 bathroom uses, making it ideal for boats and recreational vehicles. To eliminate odors, the non-toxic anti-microbial pellet changes the PH levels of the waste, so naturally occurring bacteria and viruses can’t survive. It turns bio-hazardous waste into trash which is safe to throw away in any garbage can.
“For now, the focus is on improving the comfort and cleanliness of portable toilets in this country,” said Morris. “We will assemble the toilets in the Southeast with products supplied from Georgia and North and South Carolina,” said Morris.
Sanitation Creations, headquartered in Raleigh, will donate ten percent of its profits to supply Dungaroo toilets to developing countries. “My long-term goal is to help the 2.5 billion people around the world without access to adequate sanitation.”
In 2011, the five-foot-two Morris ran her first marathon in January, graduated in August and started the company. “Running a marathon and starting a business are similar,” she said. “You hit a wall and find a way to work through it.”
Introduced at the Miami Boat Show in February, production of the Dungaroo is on hold for a year. The finish line is in sight, just as the bridge goes up. “It was my first race and I had to wait to cross the line,” said Morris. “This year is going to be that bridge.”
“I love doing what I do,” said Morris. “I love working toward a dream.