According to the World Health Organization (WTO) 1 in 3 people don’t have access to a clean and safe toilet. The Toilet Board Coalition (TBC), along with LIXIL Group Corporation (LIXIL) - a manufacturer of building materials, Firmenich and Kimberly-Clark are working together to transform sanitation systems into a smart, sustainable and revenue-generating economy.
New research released for World Toilet Day (November 19) shows that the ‘Sanitation Economy’ could generate $62 billion in economic activity in India alone by 2021 — and the opportunity is even larger worldwide for multi-national corporations and entrepreneurs alike.
In its latest report, Introducing the Sanitation Economy, the TBC sheds light on how monetizing toilet provision, products and services, biological resources, health data and information can provide benefits across business and society. What’s more, it addresses UN Sustainable Development Goal 6.2 — achieving universal access to adequate sanitation by 2030.
“This is the biggest opportunity in a century to transform sanitation systems into a smart, sustainable and revenue-generating economy. By accelerating the Sanitation Economy, we can create a robust marketplace of new business opportunities that has been virtually untapped while improving the lives of 2.3 billion currently without toilets,” said Cheryl Hicks, Executive Director of the Toilet Board Coalition.
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TBC is issuing a call to action for business leaders around the world to follow the example of global enterprises such as Unilever, Kimberly-Clark, Firmenich and LIXIL and adopt the Sanitation Economy as a new business imperative.
Fragrance and flavor company Firmenich is using breakthrough science to tackle malodor — one of the leading reasons why toilets in the developing world aren't used today and a threat to progress made in initiatives such as India’s Swachh Bharat program. Researchers at Firmenich are actively working with a range of partners across India and Africa to bring new odor-neutralizing technologies to the people most in need through affordable and easy-to-use hygiene and cleaning products.
Japanese toilet company LIXIL has created a specialized and dedicated business unit called Social Sanitation Initiatives (SSI), which aims to accelerate the design and production of new toilet and water technology solutions for low income families, water scarce and non-sewered locations around the world.
“By businesses embracing this new economy, we can ensure the safe treatment and use of the 3.8 trillion liters of human waste that is produced annually. This aims to leverage smart technologies to drive efficiency in sanitation systems, while capturing data to inform business, health and policy-making,” said Hicks.
The Sanitation Economy is made up of three distinct ‘sub-economies’: the Toilet Economy, the Circular Sanitation Economy and the Smart Sanitation Economy. The first consists of product and service innovation that provides toilets fit for purpose for all environments and incomes. The Circular Sanitation Economy sees human waste — or ‘toilet resources’ — fed into a circular economy system which replaces traditional waste management. And the third, the Smart Sanitation Economy, involves digestion sanitation systems optimizing data for operating efficiencies, maintenance, as well as consumer use and health information insights.
“The economic case for the Sanitation Economy is becoming increasingly clear. We now have evidence of working business models, technologies and demand. Momentum is building and through driving awareness of this untapped business opportunity this World Toilet Day, we’re excited to see the upcoming innovation and new business partnerships within this space,” said Charlie Beevor, VP of Unilever and TBC Chairman.
Meanwhile, LIXIL is marking World Toilet Day with the roll out of a new series of innovative SATO products across multiple states in India. SATO is a first-of-its-kind line of innovative toilet and sanitation products designed to bring improved sanitation and comfort to rural and peri-urban communities around the world.
With the launch of its latest products in India, LIXIL aims to further improve sanitation and raise the standards of living for impacted communities worldwide. Retailing for $10 or less depending on the country and model, the products incorporate a self-closing trap door that aids in reducing disease transmission and odors, making the toilet safer and more pleasant to use.
The new range of SATO products also feature a carefully tailored design that addresses some of the design challenges hindering sustainable use of toilets in India. Since the introduction of Swachh Bharat Mission in India — the government’s initiative to eradicate open defecation by 2019 — the number of people still defecating in the open has dropped from 550 million people to an estimated 320 million people.
Approximately 47,000 Twin-Pit Pour-Flush (TPPF) latrines are built in India every day, but most require more than five liters to flush and feature a junction box for switching between pits that is prone to clogging. The new generation of SATO uses a V-trap configuration connecting the twin pits. This design makes switching between the two pits easier and eliminates clogging. The SATO V-trap connection system also requires 80 percent less water per flush.
The new series of SATO products is currently available in India’s Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh states, with launches in eight new states planned within the next three months.
“Over the last year, we have scaled our efforts to improve access to safe sanitation for communities around the world, including in India. By supporting the Swachh Bharat Mission in India, we can expand our efforts and make a real contribution to solving the sanitation crisis,” said Jin Monesano, Executive Officer and Senior Managing Director of LIXIL Group. “We believe that offering innovative, safe and affordable solutions can aid in eliminating India’s struggle against open defecation.”
Meanwhile, Kimberly-Clark — maker of global toilet tissue brands Cottonelle, Scott, Andrex, Neve, Hakle and Suave — is encouraging more people to pause on World Toilet Day and consider how the lack of basic sanitation facilities profoundly affects peoples’ lives.
Around the globe, one child dies every two minutes from diseases caused by poor water, sanitation and hygiene. Millions of girls miss school every month because they do not have access to adequate facilities to manage their periods privately and with dignity. Women and girls often have to wait until after dark to defecate and urinate, often in secluded spots, exposing them to risk of violence and attack.
The need for global action on access to sanitation prompted Kimberly-Clark to launch the Toilets Change Lives program in 2014. Delivered in partnership with UNICEF, WaterAid and Water for People, the program is now active in more than 15 countries around the world. To date, the Toilets Change Lives program has directly impacted the lives of 500,000 people living in countries such as Angola, Bangladesh, India, South Africa, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, with the wider community impact reaching over one million. The program aims to elevate this number to 25 million by 2022 through increased access to sanitation.