What is CBS?

Container Based Sanitation (CBS) is a sustained sanitation service, featuring toilets with containers that are frequently sealed and collected, so that the waste can be safely treated, reused or disposed of.

The main defining feature is this frequent servicing, typically every two weeks to three times per week. In practice there are several technologies for containment, transport and treatment, and several derived products from the waste.

As CBS does not require digging, unlike sewers, pits or septic tanks, it has found a niche in many hard-to- reach or underserved contexts: densely populated informal settlements and refugee or transitional settlements, and areas with rocky ground, high groundwater, droughts, hills or frequent floods.

Learn more in our implementation guide.

Watch this World Bank video profiling the work of some of our members to find out more:

Benefits of CBS

  • Offering sanitation as a service: requiring a regular payment instead of a larger one-off payment, better suited for informal economies.
  • Efficiently re-using dry waste to create products: such as biogas, fuel briquettes, biochar, animal
  • feed using black soldier fly larvae and compost.
  • Inclusive: CBS services are able to reach users in areas where sewers are challenging or not feasible, including in areas that are densely populated or have rocky or unstable soil conditions, high water tables, limited water availability, challenging topography or are prone to flooding.
  • Hygienically safe: CBS toilets never fill up or leave sludge untreated to contaminate the environment, even during flooding when they can be sealed to ensure no waste is released into the environment.
  • Affordable: For families, a CBS system typically would represent a substantially lower initial investment (usually a deposit equivalent to the monthly service fee) compared to the cost of constructing a latrine or pour flush toilet.
  • Water-saving: as a dry or minimal-water system, water savings using CBS as compared water-flush systems can vary from 6 m3/person to 25 m3/person annually, depending on waste separating techniques.
  • Climate-smart: through active management, and often separating faeces from urine, CBS reduces carbon emissions from excreta and is resilient during floods and droughts.
  • Rapid deployment: with the ability to be rapidly deployed and scaled up, CBS services are well suited to serving humanitarian contexts.
  • Non-permanent: services can be a good solution in temporary and informal areas, such as displaced people camps, or where there are land tenure issues such as squatter settlements. Moreover, household CBS toilets can be moved or reinstalled when a subscriber moves.
  • Accessible: CBS toilets increase accessibility for those with physical disabilities, the elderly and young children.
  • Protecting women and girls: CBS toilets provide women and girls with a private, safe space to use the toilet and manage menstruation and pregnancy.
  • Ideal for reuse: CBS toilets produce less diluted or decomposed waste, which is ideal for reuse because it has not been mixed with greywater in sewers or stored in a pit for extended periods of time. As a result, fecal waste from CBS systems often produces higher quality reuse products.
  • Customer satisfaction: CBS competes with sewers in its satisfaction and desirability.