Safe Water and Environment for Reduced Operational Costs & More



In many places around the world, raw sewage is discharged into rivers, polluting freshwater sources used by communities, agriculture, and industry (UN-Water 2010). For example, in India, 80 percent of sewage goes untreated into freshwater sources (CSE 2013). There is compelling research on the ways in which human excreta contaminates waterways, thereby damaging biodiversity and ecosystem function, disrupting fisheries, and causing debilitating health concerns and in many cases human fatality (Corcoran et al. 2010, Pacific Institute 2010, WWAP 2009). The high biological oxygen demand (BOD) load of human excreta, as well as the sensitive nature of many industrial processes and their products (e.g., clothes, detergents, semiconductors), suggests that human waste exacerbates many of the well-documented business risks related to water pollution. Therefore, a lack of sanitation can lead to higher on-site pretreatment costs to make contaminated water usable for industrial purposes, or worse, water supplies are so polluted that they are unavailable for industrial use.


Other opportunities

Maintaining the social license to operate
Existing research and interviews with business and NGO representatives suggest that companies that demonstrate a marked positive influence on the communities and ecosystems (water and environment) in which they operate are more likely to strengthen long-term business resilience and encourage local stakeholders to affirm the companies’ social license to operate (Rangan et al. 2012, Owen 2007, Klein 2012). Put simply, companies that invest in improving environmental sustainability and social equity locally are more likely to garner credibility throughout the communities in which they operate. This concept of a social license to operate has been a critical driver of corporate sustainability and community investment efforts generally, and it certainly extends to the provision and promotion of sanitation, especially given how sanitation greatly affects so many facets of sustainable development in the local context.

Enhanced reputation among consumers
Efforts to improve sanitation conditions can improve a company’s reputation among key stakeholders, including consumers, civil society, investors, and the public. The past decade has seen a substantial rise in the extent to which consumers and investors consider the sustainability or social responsibility of companies and their products and services. For instance, in the United Kingdom, expenditure on ethical goods and services has tripled in the last decade (Co-Operative Bank 2009). A different study showed that 81 percent of Koreans, 70 percent of Singaporeans, and nearly half of British consumers are willing to pay a premium for environmentally friendly products (Czarnowski 2009).

New business ventures
Finally, sanitation is a source of hundreds of new businesses. One of the greatest hurdles to improved sanitation is creating systems that provide toilets for all and that collect and dispose of excreta cleanly and reliably on a long-term basis. Often, public and donor interventions focus narrowly on the construction of latrines, neglecting, for instance, pit emptying. Effective and robust sanitation requires action across the entire sanitation value chain, including behavior change, waste capture, storage, transport, treatment, and reuse (see figure below).

The sanitation value chain

(Source: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 2010)

Arguably, sustainable sanitation necessitates the involvement of private service providers if it is to cover the entire value chain effectively. It requires the development of business models that maintain sanitation systems over the long term and offer products that support clean defecation and hygiene practices, such as soap, sanitary pads, collection pumps, and other products (Water for People 2013, Black and Fawcett 2008). Such models, developed and operated by local entrepreneurs with knowledge of the local context, help ensure that sanitation interventions in urban areas are desired and made use of. The most effective sanitation services are economically viable without perpetual donor intervention, and they are adapted to local needs, cultures, and community circumstances while being treated as a social service as well as a profit-generating enterprise. At the same, this new private sector market has the potential to create jobs for the unemployed and opportunities for local entrepreneurs and global investors. According to the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Programme, in India alone, the national sanitation market is expected to grow from US$6.6 billion in 2007 to US$15.1 billion in 2020 (WSP 2011).

Beyond this, there is also potential to collect and reuse human, animal, and food waste as a valuable resource for communities, businesses, and others, especially in urban areas where the storage of human waste is problematic. Several organizations, initiatives, and social entrepreneurs are looking into sanitation-related business models. The International Water Management Institute’s Resource Recovery and Reuse Program is testing the feasibility of business models whereby human waste is collected and processed for such purposes in several countries (IWMI 2013).

Image 01 Image 02 Image 03 Image 01 Image 02 Image 01 Image 02 Image 03 Image 01 Image 02 Image 01 Image 02 Image 03 Image 01 Image 02 Image 03 Image 01 Image 01 Image 02 Image 03 Image 01 Image 01 Image 02 Image 03 Image 01 Image 01 Image 01 Image 03 Image 01 Image 01 Image 03 Image 03 Image 01 Image 01 Image 03 Image 03
Translate »