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Have you heard about the global toilet boom?

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Boom in demand for toiletsA recent article in the Harvard Business Review reports that India and China need more toilets. The market there is large because both countries have huge populations and many still live in rural or very low-income areas.

Improved toilets are important to fight disease and improve quality of life. Right now there are about 2.8 billion people without access to sanitary toilet systems. Bill Gates knew this, and sponsored a ‘Reinvent the Toilet’ challenge. The winner was a team from the California Institute of Technology who designed a solar-powered toilet. This toilet even generates electricity!

But how much of a boom are we talking about?  India, for instance, expects to see some 350-400 million people moving to urban areas in the next three decades. If you presume that 4 people would share one toilet, this could mean that as many as 100 million new toilets are needed, far more if people living in slums are supplied with acceptable, sanitary toilets.

But the demand well exceeds supply. The largest supplier of toilets is Roca (Spain), with Kohler as a distant runner-up. Together they sell 52 million toilets – only about half what India and China will need. HBR notes that many of these toilets are unsuitable for low-income markets, so only about a quarter of the 52 million can be sold to emerging markets. That is a shortfall of about 85 million toilets. 

More innovation, more production, and decreased costs are necessary. Advances also need to be made in water usage and toilet paper – both considered to be a waste by environmentalists. Global suppliers must and will step up to take advantage of this huge market opportunity. 

There is also a huge shift in demand in emerging countries for other associated industries like plumbing, construction materials, cleaning supplies, and carpeting. Toilets represent the biggest spike in demand currently, but over the next handful of years, the other materials will follow. The demand for these things as well will surely surpass the supply coming out of more advanced economies, demanding that more manufacturers think more globally about product sales and distribution. 

What other unexpected indicators of globalization can you think of?




I wish I had known about this contest that Bill Gates organized... Solar powered toilets? Hah! I guess very few people, including Bill Gates, have heard about what seems to become a known fact: our modern toilets give us more pain in the --- than we are trying to get rid off by not having to squat anymore. Our modern way of using the toilet seems to cause actual health problems... I guess if people in India and China would know about that, they'd stay with their current holes in the ground and would likely care more for a well-functioning sewer-system.  
In case you have no idea what I am talking about, pls see this article here:
Posted @ Thursday, August 30, 2012 8:18 AM by David
I have used squat toilets around the world and I actually prefer them when faced with a dirty bathroom, as you don't have to touch the toilet to use it. However, if you are crippled, old,have arthritis or difficulty squatting or standing from a squat position, wearing high heels, or just have bad balance a squat toilet will be very difficult to use without getting really dirty or hurting yourself.
Posted @ Thursday, August 30, 2012 10:06 AM by Bill
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