Skip to content Skip to navigation

Research & Ideas

Search this site

​Craig Criddle: Redefining waste treatment

​An environmental engineer looks at our aging waste-treatment infrastructure and explores how engineers are taking a different tack to the future of managing waste.

Water treatment plant

Are current practices for managing sewage and wastewater safe and scalable? | iStock/tuachanwatthana

It’s been said that sewers were one of the major advances in human history and the Clean Water Act of 1972 was one of the most successful environmental laws ever enacted in this country.

Despite it all, America’s current waste treatment infrastructure is aging rapidly and poorly equipped for the needs of the 21st century and beyond. Such is the estimation of Stanford civil and environmental engineer, Craig Criddle, one of today’s leading thinkers about what words "waste treatment" means to society today.

He says our waste management system is messy, expensive and grossly inefficient energy-wise. On this episode of Stanford Engineering's Future of Everything radio show and podcast, Criddle and host Russ Altman explore how engineers are working on new approaches that see ‘waste’ not as waste at all, but rather as a raw material that can produce more energy than it consumes and create cleaner water for agriculture and other non-potable applications.