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The VICE Report

You Don't Know Shit - Part 2

Everybody poops, but not everybody knows what happens to that poop. These days, most of us just flush and forget, but there's an industry worth billions turning your turds into treasure.

VICE Staff

VICE Staff

Every day, America must find a place to park 5 billion gallons of human waste, and we're increasingly unable to find the space. We wake up in the morning, brush our teeth, and flush the toilet, thinking that the waste water disappears into the center of the Earth. If only that were the case.

Every morning between 8 AM and 9 AM, the waste output of Manhattan's West Side swells from 70 million to 150 million gallons per day. This is known as "the big flush." The sewage will eventually end up on a NYC Department of Environmental Protection Sewage boat, which will take the sludge to a dewatering plant on Ward's Island, where the sludge will become "biosolids"—reused to create golf courses, cemeteries, and fertilizer for the human food chain.

Biosolids have become a financial asset worth hundreds of billions of dollars, but it's still possible that we'll go back to dumping our waste in the ocean. In this new documentary, VICE traces the trail of waste from butt to big-money biosolid and beyond.​