They've got to go somewhere - and with the coming Summer Olympics in Beijing, PolyJohn International Ltd. is making a bid to give Olympic attendees a place to go - portable toilets.
Although the Wetherby, England-based firm has been supplying polyethylene sanitary facilities to Olympic sites since the Seoul Summer Games in 1988, the models PolyJohn is using to court Beijing were just recently developed.
The firm has joined forces with Kalol, India-based plastics processor Sintex Industries Ltd. to provide a cheaper, closer location to make the commodes.
``These [toilets] were basically designed to try and get the shipping costs down,'' said Bob Macrae, international sales director at PolyJohn. ``Typically, the waste tank is a big waste of space when you're shipping.''
The new model of toilet, called P.A.C.E., splits the tanks into two sections and can be easily stacked and shipped in larger numbers. The modifications allow twice as many toilets to be packed in a single shipping crate.
A bonus to the new design, Macrae said, is it's easy assemble and use - a huge advantage when it comes to distributing the toilets in developing countries.
``When you think about it, in China and India there is a desperate need for public sanitation,'' Macrae said. ``The advantage of this model is that it can be assembled by inexperienced people with no special tools.''
PolyJohn has already submitted a proposal for supplying and distributing the lavatories and is waiting for a reply from the Beijing Olympics Committee.
The model, 7 feet tall and weighing around 176 pounds, already is being distributed in South America and being tested to work out kinks in the design, he said.
The partnership with Sintex is working well, he said. If the company's proposal is approved, shipping directly from India will help cut costs even further. Sintex also will be able to distribute the toilets in India.
``Sintex is the largest plastic manufacturer in India. We are the largest manufacturer of portable toilets in the world,'' Macrae said. ``We were looking to move into Asia. They just wanted to make plastic things. Hence a marriage was made.''
Sintex has 10 manufacturing plants scattered throughout India and makes a range of products from both thermoplastics and thermosets. Polyjohn's processes include thermoforming, rotomolding and injection molding.
At the end of last month, the company purchased a 100 percent stake in thermoset processor Nief Plastic SA of Genas, France, giving it direct access to European automotive and aerospace markets.
``We're very excited about this linkage,'' said Manish Gupta, exports officer for Sintex. ``It is the first time we've worked with PolyJohn.''
Sintex is already manufacturing toilets for local distribution and is prepared to begin manufacturing the Olympic commodes.
``We're just waiting for the word,'' Gupta said.