LIXIL makes pioneering water and housing products that solve everyday, real-life challenges, making better homes a reality for everyone, everywhere.
Progress in FYE2023
In 2022, an estimated roughly 3.4 billion people lacked access to safely managed sanitation services,*1 and approximately 410 million people regularly defecated in the open.*2 The human cost is devastating with over 700 children under five dying daily from diarrheal diseases caused by unsanitary living conditions.*3 Roughly 2 billion people, or one in four of the global population, lack basic handwashing facilities at home,*2 increasing the risk of rampant infectious disease.
The lack of safe, clean toilets and handwashing facilities is a crisis crippling opportunities for growth and development across entire regions. Lack of access to sanitation also leaves people, especially women and girls, exposed to the danger of animal attacks and sexual assault while seeking somewhere more private to defecate and contributes to the gender gap in education when girls who have started menstruating feel reluctant to attend classes. Global economic losses from poor sanitation in 2015 were estimated at 223 billion USD.*4 A 2023 report from WHO and UNICEF on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) No. 6 (Clean water and sanitation) called for a quintupling of progress to achieve the ambitious targets for 2030, including Target 6.2.*2 To achieve this, we need renewed collaboration between governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), private companies, and various other sectors in tackling sanitation and hygiene issues. And that is precisely what we set out to do.
*1 Safely managed sanitation services are defined at UNICEF and WHO's Joint Monitoring Programme report "Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, 2000-2022", as those that meet all of the following criteria:
・Facilities where excreta are safely disposed of in situ or removed and treated off-site;
・Facilities not shared with other households; and
Improved facilities include:
・Flush and pour-flush toilets connected to sewers
・Flush and pour-flush toilets or latrines connected to septic tanks or pits
・Ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrines
・Pit latrines with slabs (constructed from materials that are durable and easy to clean)
・Composting toilets, including twin pit latrines with slabs and container-based systems
Global sanitation and hygiene is one of LIXIL’s three strategic pillars for addressing urgent global issues under our corporate purpose to “make better homes a reality for everyone, everywhere,” and is positioned as a priority among our material issues. We have set out to improve sanitation and hygiene for 100 million people around the world by 2025 through the introduction of innovative and affordable toilet and hand hygiene solutions.
Our SATO brand is the primary driver for achieving our ambitious goal. Originally launched in 2013 with a single product, SATO, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, now offers a diverse line of affordable, durable, and innovative toilet and hygiene products and accessories. SATO toilet solutions, Connection Systems, and SATO Tap are tailored to the specific characteristics and needs of each region. While meeting the needs of end users is our core goal, SATO has also been working hard to develop products that encourage changes in consumer behavior and have a positive impact on society at large.
We are currently developing and providing such revolutionary products and services under the new brand tagline that we announced in FYE2023, “A BETTER LIFE. EVERY DAY.” in order to empower people everywhere so they can have a better life and a brighter future. SATO’s affordable solutions are complemented by LIXIL’s value-added products that help further improve quality of life over time, while also creating market demand for products higher in the pyramid.
SATO’s innovative sanitation and hygiene solutions are being used in increasing volumes in over 45 countries worldwide, earning wide praise. However, we work to look beyond product innovation to further extend the impact of our product solutions. SATO strives to establish local hygiene markets and expand the economic impact of our product offerings in various regions by training local masons and entrepreneurs and helping develop reliable local manufacturing and distribution capabilities under our Make-Sell-Use business model. We also pursue imaginative outreach methods for raising awareness of sanitation and hygiene as well as the impact it has on households and communities among people in urban and rural areas with the most urgent needs. In addition, LIXIL actively promotes these initiatives in partnership with diverse stakeholder groups to ensure as large and wide-reaching impact as possible in those communities. We are proud of our extended global partnership with UNICEF, our partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), our new partnership with FINISH Mondial, which provides financial services to facilitate sanitation and hygiene improvements, as well as our links with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and other NGOs, local manufacturers, and retailers. We are now using these links to create partnership platforms and new business models that facilitate the formation of more comprehensive solutions to hygiene-related problems. We believe these expansive efforts have the power to strengthen the role that private companies play, and the value that they bring to the resolution of hygiene and other social issues.
LIXIL’s decision to set the ambitious target of improving the lives of 100 million people through sanitation and hygiene solutions is driving our pursuit of high-impact initiatives that go beyond the simple provision of revolutionary SATO products and services.
|・Many households and institutions lack toilet facilities
・Lack of water supply and water resources
|Sato toilet solutions
|Lack of water supply, handwashing facilities, and water resources
・Easy to operate
The SATO Advisory Board oversees the strategies and initiatives designed to help solve global sanitation and hygiene issues. The Advisory Board receives progress reports on SATO business initiatives on a quarterly basis and progress reports for expanding overall targets and impact twice a year. It also explores various potential measures based on our strategy. The content of those reports and any decisions taken are then reported to the Board of Executive Officers quarterly through the Impact Strategy Committee. The Board of Executive Officers discusses and approves targets and action plans on material issues. The progress is elevated to the Board of Directors twice a year for discussion and oversight.
SATO toilet solutions are a range of simple, affordable, and easy-to-install toilets and connection systems designed for use in rural and urban areas lacking access to reliable sanitation. Flushing requires less than one liter of water and waste passes through a counterweight trapdoor that opens to remove waste once flushed. Otherwise, the trapdoor remains closed to reduce odors and prevent insects, such as flies, from spreading bacteria. These safe and hygienic toilets are helping improve sanitary environments for people in rural and urban areas that lack access to safe and sanitary toilets.
The original SATO model, the SATO Pan developed based on the needs of communities in Bangladesh, began production and sales in 2013 in the country as SATO’s first market. SATO products are currently manufactured in eight countries and sold in 10 countries in Asia and Africa, and the number of units distributed reached 1 million for four consecutive years As of April 2023, an estimated 7.5 million units* have been distributed to 45 countries, contributing to better sanitation for an estimated 45 million people.
* The number of SATO products shipped (as of April 2023).
SATO Tap was developed in FYE2021 as an affordable handwashing solution for use in the home or local community to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Since FYE2021, we have worked to improve accessibility to handwashing through SATO Tap product sales, ultimately helping prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
SATO Tap uses water in a plastic bottle of various shapes and sizes and uses gravity to release a minimal but stable water flow. As little as 100 ml is needed for each hand wash, which is 90% less water than needed with a traditional tap. With a plastic base and nozzle that can easily be manufactured, its simplicity helps keep production costs and retail prices low. Plastic bottles are typically easy to access and, as the SATO Tap promotes their reuse, this product also helps reduce plastic waste.
SATO Tap was conceived by an employee involved in developing SATO toilet solutions while he was infected with COVID-19. He recognized the urgent need to develop solutions for regions which lack water, soap, handwashing facilities, and effective handwashing habits. To ensure SATO Tap could be used across different regions, our product development team focused on local needs and end-user perspectives, such as the need for simple materials and production methods, and affordable pricing.
SATO Tap handwashing station using a plastic bottle
Since its launch and in the wake of the pandemic, LIXIL has donated 500,000 SATO Taps to 12 countries in Africa, East Asia, and South Asia through partnerships with organizations such as UNICEF. In FYE2022, we built a SATO Tap production and distribution network in India and, in FYE2023, we started producing and selling the handwashing stations in Tanzania, and promoted exports to some African countries.
By offering affordable and accessible SATO Tap, we strive to increase access to handwashing facilities and improve the people’s livelihood while raising awareness about the importance of handwashing through community engagement. For example, in India, LIXIL joined forces with JICA to convey the importance of handwashing in rural areas, schools, and hospitals through the Achhi Aadat (Good Habits) Campaign, a series of animation-enhanced lectures and hands-on SATO Tap experience sessions. In the Philippines, a survey assessing the amount of water used for handwashing in a school environment conducted by the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) in FYE2023 noted the high degree of water efficiency attained by SATO Tap.
Awareness-building activities in India (©JICA)
SATO Tap being used in a survey to measure water used for handwashing in schools in the Philippines (©GIZ, Fit for School)
We now offer an increasingly diverse range of SATO products to reach various customers’ needs and create a sustainable social business. These include the SATO Pan for building latrines or upgrading existing ones and the SATO Stool that offers a safer and more comfortable toilet experience for children, older people, pregnant women or people with physical challenges. SATO’s Connection Systems for offset pit latrines, the I-Trap and the V-Trap, enable rapid installation and make it easier to achieve safely managed sanitation.
Installing the V-Trap toilet
In India, for example, where the government promoted a twin-pit system, we developed the V-Trap toilet system to address local problems of clogging and time-consuming installation. By replacing the traditional, fixed approach to installation with an adjustable V-shaped unit that also uses our unique trap door, the V-Trap toilet enables fast, reliable installation of a twin-pit latrine. That, when combined with a SATO toilet, reduces the risk of clogging and requires approximately 80% less water per flush than conventional toilets. Twin-pit latrines built with SATO are an affordable and effective way to achieve safely managed sanitation in India, and in broader markets.
In FYE2023, we announced two new products to expand our portfolio. The SATO Slab will facilitate the swift installation of toilet facilities. The product is suitable for various needs, including humanitarian purposes, because many toilets can be installed at once. The markings on the slab also make the SATO Slab easier for people with visual impairments to use. In addition, we have started selling our Universal I-Trap in Bangladesh, which can be affixed to various piping layouts. SATO launched operations in Bangladesh with a single product offering in 2013. Today, we are helping expand the local sanitation industry in what has become our largest market not only by extending our product portfolio, but also by building a solid supply chain that spans production and distribution.
Furthermore, we took the decision to open Customer Experience Centers in India and Kenya in FYE2023 to help better address individual regional needs and strengthen our marketing and sales frameworks. These centers have contributed significantly to our improved customer understanding and feedback collection.
In addition to product innovation, we collaborate with local manufacturers and NGOs to build regional production capacity and sales systems, and nurture local human capital to maximize the benefits and impact of SATO product installations. We do this through our Make-Sell-Use business model that seeks to create sustainable local sanitation economies by fostering rural entrepreneurship, generating regional employment, and facilitating continuous local improvements.
The training of local masons and plumbers who install SATO toilets is key. To date, more than 24,000 people, including women and young people, in India, Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania, and other countries have participated in free training programs designed in conjunction with NGOs and international organizations, with over 5,500 of those having been trained in India in FYE2023. These training programs are generating improvements in toilet installation skill and income. We have also started leveraging digital platforms not only to continue mason training during the pandemic, but also to drive demand for rural mason marts and for our local retailers and partners as we seek to engage more people in greatest need of improved sanitation in rural and urban communities.
A training session in Uganda
We pursue targeted projects that also help radiate greater awareness and wider use of toilets and hand hygiene solutions across broader communities.
Our School Toilet Enhancement Program (STEP) aims to upgrade toilets across Africa, and reduce sanitation-related infections for students and spread awareness among parents and surrounding communities of the importance of hygienic sanitation facilities. In FYE2023, we worked together with the Rwandan government to conduct STEP activities in schools across a specific region and we also extended the program to cover 10 schools in Kenya with the help of a cause-related marketing (CRM) program in Japan. Thanks to those efforts, STEP has so far upgraded toilets in 43 schools and benefited 72,000 schoolchildren in Africa by the end of March 2023. Right now, we are seeking to engage public and private partners to scale up the project, influence toilet design, and ensure inclusivity with a broader range of toilet solutions.
School Toilet Enhancement Program (STEP)
Partnerships are essential for maximizing the impact of our sanitation and hygiene products and our marketing and sales activities. We benefit from the strengths of various global organizations, specialist organizations, NGOs, and business partners to help us tailor products, build local production and network hubs, and drive market demand through skills training, sales promotion, and awareness building. In addition to our existing partnerships with UNICEF and USAID, we launched a new partnership in FYE2023 with FINISH Mondial, which aims to create sustainable change and increase access to safe sanitation through economic empowerment.
In FYE2022, LIXIL expanded our MAKE A SPLASH! global partnership with UNICEF to tackle the sanitation challenge in India, Indonesia, and Nigeria, three of the world’s most populous countries. This expansion complements the original partnership launched in FYE2019 which reached 2.9 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania. The partnership aims to collaborate on new product lines, generate new product demand, leverage financing to support local sanitation economies, and to support policy and regulations that strengthen the sector.
UNICEF does not endorse any company, brand, product or service.
SATO is pursuing a revolutionary approach by setting up frameworks that allow people to access our hygiene-related solutions through our new Toilet Clinic in India, which was set up to help address the fact that many toilets couldn’t be used due to malfunctions, and through dedicated financial services in Kenya. We also conducted some additional CRM activities in FYE2023, including the Cleanliness for All project in Japan that is linked to customer purchases, in order to encourage further donations to MAKE A SPLASH! partnership.
LIXIL and the USAID launched a new five-year cooperative agreement, the Partnership for Better Living (PBL), in October 2021. PBL aims to improve sustainable access to basic sanitation and hygiene for two million people by 2026 by improving the availability and reliability of the supply chain for products including SATO toilets and SATO Tap handwashing stations in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. PBL is LIXIL’s first direct partnership with USAID, for which we received a grant of 10 million USD.
In FYE2023, PBL completed a study of the plastics manufacturing and distribution landscape in West Africa to facilitate the exploration of SATO expansion opportunities in the region. In addition, PBL conducted extensive interviews with NGOs that procure SATO products for their programs, leaders of USAID water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) projects, and SATO manufacturers to help us identify sales and partnership opportunities, address supply chain challenges, and formulate effective measures for achieving our targets.
LIXIL works with the incorporated administrative agency JICA, which coordinates official development assistance for the Government of Japan, on various efforts to improve sanitary environments and secure safe water in emerging markets by leveraging our mutual strengths. Since FYE2021, we have been working together in India to raise awareness of hygienic practices such as handwashing. We also collaborated with JICA in FYE2023 to provide webinars on global sanitation and hygiene to government officials involved in public health from five African countries.
LIXIL and FINISH Mondial signed an agreement in FYE2023 to cooperate on the solving of global hygiene issues. FINISH Mondial is an organization that connects communities and businesses to financial services to help bridge the affordability gap in the field of sanitation and hygiene and that also promotes public-private partnerships to accelerate the installation of toilets and other sanitation facilities. The organization has helped improve sanitation for 7.5 million people. Together, we will strive to improve access to SATO’s hygiene solutions by coupling those solutions with loans and other financial solutions designed to improve the sanitation environment in people’s homes and expand the hygiene business.
We work with experienced NGOs, such as Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) in Bangladesh and Population Services International (PSI) in Kenya, to build the value chains that enable SATO installation, to lobby governments to promote sanitation measures, and to receive feedback on product development.
LIXIL is a member of the Toilet Board Coalition, a global alliance of public and private sector partners that aims to develop sustainable solutions to the sanitation crisis. As co-founder of the Toilet Board Coalition, we have served in multiple leadership roles including Chair in 2019-2021 and current Vice Chair, as well as Chair of the Toilet Board Coalition in Asia. We actively participate in the flagship Accelerator program, mentor entrepreneurs who tackle sanitation problems, and engage in advocacy. In FYE2023, we focused on formulating a new roadmap to help achieve the Coalition’s goal of improving the lives of 1 billion people suffering from poor sanitation by 2030. The roadmap will focus specifically on accelerating mentorship programs, investment, and other support extended to small and medium-sized firms and other players.
One way to generate a much larger-scale impact when seeking to solve water and sanitation challenges is to effectively match government investment activities and initiatives that are currently underway in regions around the world with private-sector specialist expertise and innovative technologies. With that aim in mind, LIXIL established LIXIL Public Partners (LPP) in FYE2023 as an independent business from SATO to promote meaningful cooperation with key stakeholders, such as governments and public sector organizations, and maximize potential public-private synergies.
LPP is currently working on expanding pilot projects in cooperation with government organizations primarily in low-income areas of the US where as many as 2 million people are said to lack access to basic sanitation. In rural Alabama, where 80% of households do not have access to public sewage systems, LIXIL is developing and offering innovative solutions to improve sanitation for 100 households through partnerships and funding from the state government and other public agencies. Over the next couple of years, LPP plans to use these pilots in the US to explore the best public-private partnership models and strategies, and innovate an appropriate portfolio of products and services for water and hygiene. LPP aims to accelerate additional progress in water, sanitation, and hygiene at a time when urgency is needed.
LIXIL is partnering with customers in Japan to broaden understanding of sanitation and hygiene issues and together help improve sanitary environments in emerging markets.
In FYE2020, we donated a portion of the sales of integrated shower toilets to the Toilets for All Project under our MAKE A SPLASH! global partnership with UNICEF. Approximately 26 million JPY donated has been used to build the necessary infrastructure to help install safe and sanitary toilets and to raise awareness of hygiene issues in local communities. In FYE2023, our younger employees took the lead on promoting the Cleanliness for All project in which one US dollar was donated to MAKE A SPLASH! for every eligible product purchased, including our integrated shower toilets and touchless faucets. Combined with donations from LIXIL, the campaign raised total donations of 23.8 million JPY, which will be used to improve sanitary environments, such as for installing sanitary toilets and for providing hygiene education at schools, mainly in Kenya.
We also started an initiative in 2020 whereby we donate 10 JPY to MAKE A SPLASH! for every purchaser of a LIXIL product who registers as a member of the LIXIL Owners Club. Since 2020, the LIXIL Owners Club has conducted this campaign for several months each year and has donated more than 5.4 million JPY in total so far.
We also convey information relating to global sanitation and hygiene issues through our website and a YouTube channel as part of our LIXIL x SDGs NEXT STAGE activities designed to help achieve the SDGs together with LIXIL customers, business partners, and children that will form the next generation in Japan. In FYE2023, we distributed content on our official Instagram account, encouraging people to think about global sanitation issues through a live Instagram broadcast navigated by Japanese actor and model Akane Hotta.
In December 2018, LIXIL received the Deputy-Chief’s Award, given by Japan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, at the 2nd Japan SDGs Awards. LIXIL’s efforts to tackle sanitation issues, including the development of SATO products and the solving of challenges throughout the value chain, as well as advocacy in collaboration with NGOs and international bodies, have been recognized through various awards. Most recently, we are recognized for the innovative new SATO Tap launch.
LIXIL believes that everyone should have access to safe sanitation and hygiene. With a team of specialists in technology, design, and product development, LIXIL is leading the creation of experimental new toilet systems across multiple initiatives.
LIXIL began collaborating with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2018 on a household “reinvented toilet,” and is contributing to the next phase of this initiative in collaboration with Georgia Tech University under the G2RT Project. The off-grid system is designed to safely treat human waste on site, without the need for transport or later treatment. The first units from the consortium are in pilot testing.
SATO is researching the use of inexpensive treatment solutions for pit latrines to complement the SATO portfolio of products, creating a platform for more solutions for safely managed sanitation in rural and peri-urban communities.
LIXIL has collaborated with Oxford Economics and international NGO WaterAid to conduct a study in 2016.