3. Collaborate to crack scalability
By itself, a healthy gross margin is not sufficient to make CBS enterprises viable and scalable, other critical success factors also need consideration including: sourcing sufficient talent to operate what is a relatively complex business, finding appropriate and affordable transfer, storage and waste-to-resource facilities, controlling overhead increases and achieving a landed cost of US$40-50 per toilet, depreciated over 5 years. While all present their challenges, the latter deserves closest scrutiny — not only because of the impact it can make, but also because we’re not yet aware of any design that has met the twin demands of a US$40 to US$50 cost and a 5-year life span.
Achieving both simultaneously will almost certainly require extensive collaboration — concerted effort to design and develop new CBS concepts that meet both cost and quality demands, and active involvement of municipal authorities as partners in CBS delivery (see Building Block 8). In the latter case, this could help obviate the problem by providing access to a much larger customer base, by facilitating economies of scale in sourcing and purchasing toilets, and/or by subsidizing services to make higher cost, higher quality toilets available to customers at a price they can afford.
As far as we know, no one has yet managed to crack the cost vs. quality conundrum. Either low cost comes at the expense of quality and durability, or quality and durability comes at the expense of cost (e.g., costs of most imported plastic units range between US$120 and US$200).