Facilities Supplies Special: SCA raises hygiene standards

Global cleaning, breakroom and jan/san vendor SCA has committed to bringing the link between hygiene, health and prosperity to the attention of the world.


For the past eight years, SCA has embarked on an ambitious project to provide a series of research reports – five so far – detailing the state of hygiene practices worldwide, with an overriding mission to raise awareness of the connection between hygiene, health and well-being. 

The latest Hygiene Matters report (2016) was a joint effort between SCA and The Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), a United Nations (UN) entity devoted to the sanitation and hygiene needs of the world’s most vulnerable communities. 

Launched during a special session of the 71st UN General Assembly, the report is based on a survey completed by 12,000 respondents in 12 countries. It explores three themes: an economic perspective on the value of hygiene; a social perspective focused on the taboos and stereotypes around hygiene; and the role hygiene will play in social and economic development in the future.

SCA CEO Magnus Groth says: “We share our expertise and educate on the importance of good hygiene practices, and engage in activities across the globe such as educating children about the importance of proper hand hygiene.”

The report forms part of the company’s support for the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which were announced in September 2015 (see ‘United Nations Sustainable Development Goals’). The global commitment to end poverty requires action from governments, the private sector, academia and civil society to achieve its aims in creative and innovative ways. “We need action from everyone, everywhere. If governments, businesses and civil society work together, we can build a world of peace, prosperity, dignity and opportunity for all by 2030,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said recently. 

Hygiene matters

As Groth points out in the Foreword of the Hygiene Matters report, “good hygiene helps save lives and sustain prosperity”. This relates directly to Goal #6 – universal access to clean water and sanitation – of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

WSSCC Chair and Nigeria’s Minister of Environment Amina Mohammed goes further in terms of driving home the importance of clean water and sanitation, stating: “Poverty elimination is impossible without access to and use of safe water and sanitation. For too long, sanitation and hygiene have been taboo topics, often forgotten in development work, despite the 2.4 billion people on the planet who still lack access to them.”

The report highlights some important factors involving hygiene and sanitation. We all know, for example, that a lack of hygiene has an impact on workplace productivity, but it also influences participation in education and has an impact on the wider economy. 

SCA refers to changing behaviours through intuitive and smart design. A simple change in handwashing attitude, for instance, can provide meaningful health benefits by minimising the risk of infections. New solutions in this area include self-sterilising door handles, automatic hand sanitisers for children, or an electronic hand hygiene reminder system. Combining the need for water conservation and hand hygiene, the STAND sustainable sink/urinal solution reuses water from a sink above a urinal to rinse it out, while encouraging hand washing by having the sink immediately in front of a user. 

Visit www.sca.com/en/press/publications/hygiene-matters for access to the full report.

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

In September 2015, a historic United Nations (UN) Summit took place that resulted in world leaders adopting 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of the wide-reaching 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

On 1 January 2016, the SDGs officially came into force. While not legally binding, governments are expected to establish national frameworks for the achievement of the SDGs, replacing and building on the original – and successful – eight Millennium Development Goals.

The new goals call for action by all countries to end all forms of poverty and “they recognise that ending poverty must go hand-in-hand with strategies that build economic growth and addresses a range of social needs including education, health, social protection, and job opportunities, while tackling climate change and environmental protection”.

Goal #6: Clean water and sanitation

  • Goal: To ensure access to safe water sources and sanitation for all.
  • Why? Access to water, sanitation and hygiene Is a human right, but still around 2.4 billion people lack access to basic sanitation services such as toilets/latrine. In addition, water scarcity affects over 40% of the global population and is projected to rise. 
  • The effects: More than 800 children die daily from diarrhoeal diseases linked to poor hygiene.
  • Cost to correct the problem: Extending basic water and sanitation services to the unserved would cost $28.4 billion a year from 2015-2030.
  • Cost of not correcting the problem: Globally, over two million people die every year from diarrhoeal diseases, with poor hygiene and unsafe water responsible for almost 90% of these deaths. Financially, it is estimated to cost 4.3% of sub-Saharan GDP and 6.4% of GDP in India.
  • What can be done? Get involved in World Water Day (22 March) and World Toilet Day (19 November). The United Nations says that civil society organisations need to ensure governments are kept accountable, invest in water research, and promote the inclusion of women, youth and indigenous communities in water resources governance.

2030 Goal #6 targets include:

  • Achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations
  • Improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimising release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally
  • Expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water- and sanitation-related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies
  • Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management