Water scarcity has been recognized by the United Nations as one of the most pressing problems facing the 21st-century world. Although 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is water, nearly 1.2 billion people, or one-fifth of the human race, live in areas of physical water scarcity, and another 1.6 billion face economic water shortages.
To help encourage industrial water efficiency, the Carbon Trust recently launched the Carbon Trust Water Standard (CTWS). As conserving water resources becomes an essential step in the move to a sustainable low-carbon economyhe Standard recognizes companies for consistently measuring, managing and reducing overall water usage in their operations.
The CTWS is awarded to organizations that measure water input from mains supply, surface and groundwater abstraction and rainwater collection; measure water output as a trade effluent; attain a minimum score of 60 percent on a qualitative water governance, measurement and management assessment; and show long-term reductions in water inputs and wastewater.
Coca-Cola and Sainsbury’s are two of the first companies to be awarded the CTWS. Coke has achieved its lowest-ever water-use ratio and reduced its water usage by nearly 15 percent since 2007, and Sainsbury’s is on track to attain a 50 percent relative reduction in water use as part of its 20x20 Sustainability Plan.
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Coke is becoming more water-efficient through several efficiency programs, new technologies and employee engagement initiatives and has made major changes to specific elements of its manufacturing process.
“Water is fundamental to our business and our communities,” said John Brock, Chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises. “To be a sustainability leader, we recognize that we must fully understand our impact beyond carbon. By measuring and managing our water impact within our operations, as well as across our value chain, we can address longer-term water scarcity issues.”
Coke also has begun ensuring 100 percent of its wastewater is treated and returned to the environment at standards supporting aquatic life, and several of its manufacturing sites have environmental management systems to help the company to monitor wastewater. The effort extends upstream and downstream of the value chain. The company has developed and updated source water protection plans at each of its 17 manufacturing sites based on initial vulnerability assessments.
Coke has a goal of becoming water-neutral by 2020 and recently reduced its water-use ratio in its manufacturing operations by 20 percent from a 2004 baseline.