Saving Water to Make Money
The world’s water supplies are running low, and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), four out of every 10 people are already affected. But despite the gloomy reality of this problem, entrepreneurs in the South are rising to the challenge to save water.
One unnecessary waste of water is car washing. The number of cars in developing countries is growing fast, with a 27 per cent increase in sales in China this year and South America overtaking Asia as the world’s fastest-growing regional vehicle market (Global Auto Report). And all these cars will be washed, wasting this precious resource.
The large informal car-washing market in Brazil has long been known for paying low wages and avoiding taxes. On top of this, it also wastes water. Lots and lots of water. In Brazil, 28.5 per cent of the population (41.8 million people) do not have access to public water or wastewater services and 60 per cent do not have adequate sanitation (Brazilian Institute of Applied Economic Research).
Started in 1994, Drywash uses a locally available Brazilian organic carnauba wax to clean cars without using water. Drywash has also developed a line of cleaning products that cleans every part of a car without the need for water. It estimates that it has saved 450 million litres of water in its first 10 years of operation. From the start, it set out to change the status quo and run a business that “thinks like a big corporation,” said its international partner, Tiago Aguiar.
To do this, Drywash’s management team focused on operating an efficient and professional business. When the Government of Brazil passed strict laws against informal selling of products, Drywash was well positioned to benefit, with companies preferring to work with a legal business. Customers have also been attracted to Drywash because they know that the service is consistent and to a high standard. Drywash made US$2.7 million in 2005.
In China, Landwasher toilets are tackling the growing problem of pro- viding flush toilets to the country’s 1.32 billion people. Landwasher has patented a process using a special agent and sterilization to dispose of human waste without using water and using very little electricity.
Landwasher has seen its sales grow to 40 million yuan (US$5.2 million) and has six sales offices covering 27 provinces. – (September 2007)
How the Landwasher toilet works.