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15 December, 2021 - 21:48 By Tony Quested

New facility and extra staff for CleanTech toilet specialist Propelair

Propelair®, the UK designer and manufacturer of the world’s lowest-water-flush toilet, has opened a new manufacturing, assembly and distribution site to boost output and better serve its growing list of customers.

The move to the 930 sq m site at the Pembroke Business Centre in Basildon, increases production capacity fourfold; it has more space, better facilities and improved transport and visitor access compared to former premises at Laindon, the company says.

The centre will initially produce up to 6,000 toilets a year, each saving an average 156,000 litres of water annually. This will save on average £500 on annual water and sewage bills and the toilet will so pay for itself in under three years.

By using less water, the toilet will also be responsible for reducing CO2 emissions by 162kg a year. An on-site innovation facility will focus on product testing and quality assurance while a separate unit at the company’s central London HQ is dedicated to design innovation.

To fulfil resurgent demand from UK and international customers post-lockdown, Propelair has also recruited a further five employees.

Propelair combines just 1.5 litres of water with a high-speed jet of air to leave the pan super-clean in one flush. The closed lid improves hygiene by reducing airborne germs such as COVID-19 by up to 95 per cent (while standard toilets can reduce airborne germs by up to 80 per cent). 

The patented technology brings big savings in water, energy and cost to out-of-home venues, where toilets can be flushed hundreds of times daily.

Using on average 84 per cent less water than standard toilets, Propelair’s growing list of c200 commercial and public-sector customers are saving nearly 1 billion litres a year – enough to fill about 350 Olympic pools – while benefiting from enhanced green credentials. 

“The site marks an exciting new stage in our growth, providing the space and services we need to serve our customers and, being close to the M25, connects us easily with them,” said David Hollander, CEO of Propelair – previously MD of Dyson UK. 

“We’re particularly pleased to be recruiting and training more workers to underpin the skills we’ve built up in the business and to advance further on our innovation path. 

“Propelair technology is a vital weapon in boosting organisations’ resource efficiency, saving them money and building performance while reducing environmental impact. We are investing in production and distribution so these benefits can be fully realised for our customers, now both in the UK and internationally.”

A leadership team recruited in 2019 has grown Propelair’s sales pipeline more than 20 times and this strategy was redoubled during lockdown, when the UK government became a shareholder in the business through its Future Fund. This year’s easing of restrictions has led to a surge in commercial interest and raised expectations of a sales uplift.

In a world where 2bn people lack drinking water and the UN expects a 40 per cent shortfall in supply by 2030, Propelair’s target market is huge – in the UK with 12m out-of-home toilets, and water-stressed regions such the Gulf and South Africa and later, Australia.

Propelair focuses on where there is greatest benefit – sites with 40-plus flushes a day, locations with social and environment targets, or those relating to hygiene and/or queue reduction.

Propelair’s dedicated laboratory tests and refines designs to ensure they conform to the latest product regulations and meet its high-quality standards. Working with supply chain partners, Propelair ensures its products benefit from the latest technology and remain cost-effective.

Propelair recently entered the Gulf market through a partnership with Dubai-based bathroom and kitchen solutions provider Aquaforce.

Aquaforce, which distributes European bathroom and kitchen products to the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) and other Middle Eastern nations as well as North Africa, is now spearheading the UK manufacturer’s expansion through on-the-ground sales and marketing initiatives and by onboarding local distribution partners throughout the GCC.

Propelair brings a pragmatic solution to the GCC. The region’s six nations – United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait – are already arid countries and demand continues to rise fast for scarce renewable freshwater resources. The agreement comes as the UAE celebrates its Golden Jubilee.

With 43-48 per cent of all water in a building used up by ordinary toilets requiring 6-9 litres per flush, Propelair’s solution to improve water-efficiency in the GCC is its air-powered toilet. It requires on average 84 per cent less water than standard toilets, using air to remove waste with just 1.5 litres of water. 

Following product accreditation and its successful exhibition at The Big 5 building and construction products event in Dubai in September, Propelair is now talking with several organisations.

Trials are underway at six sites including a busy shopping mall in Dubai to demonstrate the money and water saving performance of its smart technology.

Hollande said: “We’re excited about the response to our technology in the GCC where people understand that hygiene and sustainability must be tackled together. It’s an important step for us as we mark the 50th anniversary of the UAE’s founding.”

In addition to its core partnership with Aquaforce, Propelair has signed up three distribution partners and is keen to talk to more businesses prepared to push the proposition.

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