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Penny wise… Belfast man’s 1p toilet flush invention could cut business water bills, and help save planet


Mark Gilligan and Arthur O’Brien

Mark Gilligan and Arthur O’Brien

The tablet is simply dropped down the toilet instead of flushing

The tablet is simply dropped down the toilet instead of flushing


Mark Gilligan and Arthur O’Brien

NEXT time you have a ‘wee wee’ use a Wizso! That’s the message a Belfast inventor hopes will help in the battle against climate change.

Chartered engineer Mark Gilligan has come up with an ingenious way for all of us to spend a penny and help save the planet.

The father-of-four has created a unique tablet which is simply dropped down the toilet instead of flushing — saving 7.5 litres of water with every flush.

At a cost of just 1p per Wizso tablet, it allows you to literally spend a penny while reducing your carbon footprint.

With water costing businesses in Northern Ireland on average 2.2p a flush, the financial savings are also a major plus for local enterprise.


The tablet is simply dropped down the toilet instead of flushing

The tablet is simply dropped down the toilet instead of flushing

The tablet is simply dropped down the toilet instead of flushing

But it is overseas in countries where water is a scarce commodity that Mark hopes his idea will really become a game- changer.

And he believes he has found a simple way that all of us can do our bit to help reduce global warming.

His invention, Wizso has been two years in development and is poised for launch in April.

Mark (54), who has more than 30 years’ experience in the waste, environmental consultancy and start-up industries, says: “I have done a lot of trips to the Far East and Israel with my job as a consultant and it struck me how much better they are at saving water. Water is so important to them that they talk about it the way we talk about the weather and they appreciate it so much more.

“During the first lockdown when I had a bit more time I thought I would finally have a go at developing something.

“I contacted Invest NI and got an innovation grant and then contacted Professor Stephen Bell who is head of the School of Chemistry at Queen’s who said he could help me.”

Recently qualified chemistry PHD student Cindy Lee helped develop the tablet and Mark has also been working with local companies to design packaging, branding and a website for Wizso.

A special dispenser installed in your bathroom will release the eco-friendly tablet at the push of a button. It should then simply be dropped into the toilet bowl before or after peeing. The tablet reacts on impact with the water, delivering a fresh smell and leaving the toilet clean and ready for use by the next person without flushing.

As well as saving 7.5 litres of fresh water, it will also prevent three grams of carbon from being emitted.

While we don’t pay for domestic water use in Northern Ireland, Mark’s invention could save families in the rest of the UK an average of £120 per year on their water bill.

For the rest of us it is a simple way of helping to save water and reduce our carbon footprint.

To avoid putting chemicals into the loo, Wizso does not treat the water, it simply enables the user to do something positive for the planet.

Mark says: “It is a simple way for people to do their bit for the environment.

“We have one of the wettest countries in the world so we don’t think about saving water but there is only so much water which can be stored.

“Our water usage is increasing and not decreasing.

“Twenty-five years ago we used around 140 litres of water per person per day and now that is 160 litres.

“The water supplied to our homes and places of work is all very high quality and what we flush down the toilet is drinkable and it doesn’t just arrive by magic. It has to be sourced, stored, filtered and then treated and dosed before maybe being pumped and ready for use. Each stage needs energy and the use of various chemicals to provide fresh and clean water.

“After use, this water then flows into the wastewater treatment system where it is again treated before being discharged into a river or the sea — again requiring energy and more chemicals.

“Between 40-50 per cent of the water you use at home is used in the bathroom and over half of that will be used in flushing the toilet. By targeting this water, there are huge savings to be made in terms of carbon emissions and chemicals used as well as the environmental benefits of leaving the water in situ, reducing the pressure on our water sources.

“Each flush uses around 7.5 litres of water, the average person pees at least seven times a day — that’s potentially over 50 litres of perfect drinking water every day.”

Product trials are already agreed with a number of industry-leading organisations including a hotel chain and Mark has also applied for a patent for the tablet, the first of its kind.

He adds: “Wizso is the first product that is really about personal behaviour and allows people to make the simple choice to do something positive to play their part in protecting the environment.”

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