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American Standard launches global sanitation effort

BY Ken Clark

Piscataway, N.J.-based American Standard says it is out to prove just how powerful around the world a toilet can be.

The company pointed to stats that show almost half the world lacks a safe way to go to the bathroom. And almost half of North Americans surveyed have no idea that lack of sanitation facilities causes 2,000 deaths per day, mainly among children. In regions of the world where water is scarce and sewer infrastructure doesn’t exist, open pit latrines allow disease to spread through direct and indirect contact with human waste.

Toilet manufacturer American Standard has launched a campaign to increase awareness of this crisis and to stimulate action that protects the health of all people through well-engineered plumbing solutions

American Standard engineers have invented SaTo (pronounced SAH-toh, derived from “Safe Toilet”), a cost-effective hygienic latrine pan that uses an ingeniously simple mechanical seal and water seal to reduce disease transmission by closing off pit latrines from the open air. The company will donate hundreds of thousands of these pans to Bangladesh in 2013, one for each of its Champion brand toilets sold in North America.

SaTo was developed based on the findings from a market assessment American Standard engineers conducted last year in the Rajshahi region of Bangladesh, organized and led by International Development Enterprises (iDE). The product design team observed the widespread use of non-hygienic latrines, where users fill a pot called a “bodna” of water, and use the water to “flush” waste into the pit. The latrines, which are about 6 ft. to 8 ft. deep, are covered with a concrete slab in which a plastic toilet pan is encased. The pans have a large opening that allows waste to freely fall into the pit, but no seal to prevent transmission of pathogens back out of the pit via flying insects. 

The team also visited manufacturing facilities to understand existing capabilities and cost structures in order to develop a solution that could be economically mass-produced in Southeast Asia.
 
After eight months of development at the American Standard New Product Design center at the company headquarters in Piscataway, N.J., successful field testing on SaTo was completed in Bangladesh this past January and February. Users especially appreciated how the small amount of water retained after each use created an airtight seal that reduced odors. 

“The SaTo retail price is well within the price range that triggered purchase intent from field trial participants,” said Jim McHale, American Standard VP product development, who led the field studies, as well as the latrine design team. “The price point allows for profit-taking at every step of the supply chain, yielding not just safer sanitation, but also a sustainable business model to drive widespread adoption and help reduce poverty.”

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In California, Village Nurseries gets busy

BY Ken Clark

Orange, Calif.-based Village Nurseries, a specialty wholesale grower for landscape professionals, is now offering the Sunset Western Garden Collection to California landscape professionals and Southern California Home Depot stores, as well as select other retail garden centers throughout California. 

Village Nurseries is the exclusive grower for the 29-plant Sunset Western Garden Collection under license from Plant Development Services which, in turn, is licensed by Sunset Publishing Corp. The collection is characterized by top-performing plants selected especially for Western gardens with their unique climate, rainfall, year round temperature, wind and humidity.

“We feel the Sunset Western Garden Collection is a natural fit for our continued expansion of water efficient, climatically correct plants,” said Brian Parker, lawn and garden merchant – Southern California for The Home Depot. “Our Southern California partnership with local water agencies has been critical to our development of a more regionalized product mix specific to our geographic area. Saving time, water and money is in everyone’s best interest. As the demand for these types of hybridized plants increase, we want our customers to know they can count on The Home Depot to meet their needs.” 

Village Nurseries CEO David House said the company’s goal is to bring out "new and superior plant materials."

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Hong Kong marketers plan events in NYC and LA

BY Ken Clark

The largest Hong Kong promotion to take place in the United States will be held this summer to showcase Hong Kong’s advantages for American companies looking to tap new business opportunities in Asia, particularly on the Chinese mainland.

“Think Asia, Think Hong Kong” will feature symposiums in New York and Los Angeles, June 11 and 14, respectively. Speakers will include CY Leung, chief executive of the Hong Kong SAR Government, and more than 60 prominent senior executives from global companies. The event is organized by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), with support from 14 Hong Kong partners and close to 100 US organizations. 

U.S. exports to Hong Kong from 2010 to 2012 grew by 41%, to more than $37 billion. Over the past decade (2003-2012), U.S. exports to Hong Kong have surged 177%.

“As the global economic balance continues to shift to Asia, Hong Kong is the ideal business platform from which to access the myriad regional opportunities now available in the growing ASEAN area and the Chinese mainland,” said HKTDC chairman Jack So. “Our low taxes, free economy, rule of law, English-speaking environment and world-class business services make us the preferred partner for any overseas businesses wishing to tap these growing possibilities.”

There are approximately 1,400 U.S. firms in Hong Kong, concentrated in trading, banking and finance, and transport. As of October 2012, there were 869 U.S. companies with their regional headquarters or regional offices in Hong Kong, more than any other country.

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