The Circular Sanitation Economy (2017)

The objective of this publication is to demonstrate the commercial viability of the Circular Sanitation Economy and showcase the new business models operating at city scale.

Primary Functions

  • Explore two key questions:
    • Will current Circular Economy Sanitation business models be profitable at scale, and will public subsidy
      still be required?
    • What are the key elements of the commercial case – the key arguments needed at the inflection points
      where scale-up decisions are made?

Detailed Description

Circular Economy principles are becoming a business imperative for the future. Evidence over the past decade has shown that by applying a Circular Economy lens, businesses can reduce costs and generate new revenue streams. We argue this to be true also for the emergent sanitation sector and more broadly what we at the Toilet Board Coalition call the rise of the Sanitation Economy.

In response, we as business leaders and members of the Toilet Board Coalition, are keen to signal to our stakeholders our willingness to formulate and support innovative business solutions that firmly bring sanitation into the Circular Economy and in doing so enable us to leverage significant benefits for our businesses and for society. When applied to sanitation, the Circular Economy unlocks a rich cycle of biological, and renewable, resources that can be used and reused continuously. This represents a new reservoir of resources, currently being lost and often causing harm to society, which if captured could amount to 3.8 trillion litres of biological material globally each year.

The compelling evidence and statements from the companies and stakeholders who have contributed to this report, along with the data presented, make it clear that the Circular Sanitation Economy could significantly speed up the pace of change and the scale needed to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6: Universal access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene. The safe management of Toilet Resources is critical to creating sustainable and resilient sanitation systems for all.

Moreover, the new technologies and business models emerging – as discussed in The Commercial Cases section of this report – present real promise for profitability at scale, replicability, faster and at lower cost than traditional sanitation systems.

It is our aim that this report provides new evidence to the global sanitation and business communities that there is significant opportunity, now, to evolve our thinking about waste management to a focus on the mining of vast resources and potential products that lie within our toilets, everyday, by the entire population. We hope that our fellow business leaders become as inspired as we are about the toolbox of business opportunities outlined in this report, and will join us in accelerating the Circular Sanitation Economy.




WWF Mitigation