Insights for advancing container based sanitation (CBS) businesses

This solution addresses the challenge of demonstrating financial viability and replicability at scale in Ghana, Peru & Haiti for container based sanitation (CBS) businesses

Problem Description

Against a backdrop of rapid urbanization, expected to see the number of people living in informal settlements double to two billion by 2030, it’s unlikely that we will reach the SDG of achieving access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all without a viable, high-quality alternative to piped sanitation. Uniquely suited to the challenges of densely populated areas that lack access to sewers and other on-site sanitation systems, container based sanitation (CBS) has the potential to be just such an alternative — provided it can be demonstrated as financially viable and capable of being replicated to a scale deserving of recognition as an improved sanitation facility. The CBS model is built around provision of stand-alone toilets, which store waste in sealable, removable cartridges. Those cartridges are safely removed, without exposing residents or workers to the waste, and taken to a treatment or resource recovery center for processing and cleaning.

Building Blocks


Since early 2016 EY’s Enterprise Growth Services have been working with a selection of CBS enterprises in Ghana, Haiti and Peru, leveraging EY’s business modelling expertise, to help them improve their financial sustainability and better position themselves for scale. This involved developing dynamic profitability models and identifying detailed cost and profitability drivers. In doing so, we could develop recommendations for substantial gross margin improvement, test scalability and breakeven scenarios and develop associated action plans.

Each enterprise now has a clearer understanding of it profitability drivers, and executable and quantifiable improvement opportunities. It is hoped that EY’s insights shared through the 8 Building Blocks provide WASH stakeholders with a blueprint for taking CBS to the next level, gaining the recognition that it deserves as an improved sanitation option and scaling it as an important contributor to the achievement of SDG targets.

Sustainable Development Goals

On September 25th 2015, countries adopted a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years. This solution covers the following goals:

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Social Progress Index

  • Water and Sanitation - Can people drink water and keep themselves clean without getting sick?
  • Resources

    Organisations Involved

    Contributed By

    Solution Stage

    One of the 7 stages of an innovation. Learn more
    Growing scaling and spreading6
    Strong leadership, management, implementation skills
    • Business or organisational growth
    • Franchising
    • Licensing
    • Legislation
    • Spreading ideas
    • Transferring practice
    • Fidelity assessments may be important
    • Strong capacity needed to ensure transfer of practice
    • Equity, loans, payment by results, social impact bonds
    Evidence derived from evaluations in multiple sites, and independently run randomised control trials
    Innovation or impact at scale

    Key Details

    Social Progress Index
    Water and Sanitation
    Sustainable Development Goals
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