With two third of this planet covered with water, it is ironic that 780 million people live without access to clean drinking water. What’s more, approx 4.5 billion people live within 50km radius of an “impaired” water resource – one that is running dry, or polluted.

Conventional centralized systems to clean water are increasingly becoming inadequate to cater to the rising demands of both domestic and industrial needs and, in some cases, have themselves become the source of pollution. Industries are increasingly looking to quick and sustainable solutions to meet stringent regulations and for sustainable water management.

While globally, most countries have enforced stringent regulations to promote efficient water use to curb wasteage and increase consumer sensitivity towards water stress, the need for sustainable use of water resources has caused organizations and government institutions to adopt highly efficient sustainable solutions and implement decentralized waste water treatment systems.

Astronomically Growing Market

The decentralized packaged/containerized water and wastewater treatment system market is on the rise. As it turns out, decentralized wastewater treatment systems are past nascent stage and growing in the market. Last year, the market grew to about $4 billion increasing in excess of 6 percent per annum.

The key reasons for such astronomical growth in popularity? These decentralized packaged systems are a ready-to-use self-contained modular solutions, hence

  • Installation and commissioning can be done quickly as compared to traditional solutions
  • Are energy efficienct and have a very low footprint
  • Easy to operate and maintain, when compared to large centralized systems, also easy to scale up or down given modular design
  • Customisable to treat a variety of influent parameters and, hence, is highly reliable

Today, APAC is the fastest growth market for decentralized systems given the region is home to several Smart City projects, rapid urbanization and industrialization, and increasing environmental awareness coupled with severe water stress. Nonetheless, while the opportunities for suppliers abound in this region, APAC is also very price sensitive besides regulatory machinery is also slow moving.

Key Highlights

While Indian and Chinese market is actively pursuing its uses, Japan adopted Japanese decentralized wastewater treatment systems, locally known as JOHKASU, from as early as 1980s. Its job was to locally treat domestic sewage in towns and rural communities. It’s estimated that 20 percent of all domestic wastewater in Japan is treated by the JOHKASU. Today, Japan is a well-established market for decentralized packaged systems and the market is saturated with a large number of regional participants.

Besides cost effectiveness and low footprint, decentralized treatment system is also popular for quick installation in SEA countries. It has its own set of challenges, however. SEA countries are in need of water and wastewater infrastructure and with strategic funding, it can boost the market. Tourism and water stress are major drivers in countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

How are Companies Tapping the Opportunities

The operation of decentralized packaged WWWT systems can be energy intensive and energy costs up to 70% of the operational expenditure (OPEX). Companies such as Hitachi Aqua – Tech Engineering Pte Ltd, Azud, and newterra have solar powered water treatment systems in the Middle East and the United States

The availability of limited financial or funding resources can be a hurdle to potential customers. Various new and innovative business models are being offered to mitigate this hurdle. Clearford Water Systems Inc offers a pay-for-performance scheme, in which the company invests and installs a treatment system and the customer pays based on the performance and usage (per unit basis).


Sapan Agarwal drives content and marketing for Frost & Sullivan. Sapan is based out of Kuala Lumpur Malaysia and can be reached at sapan.agarwal@frost.com | +603 6204 5830