BSI water footprinting standard moves step closer

A new international standard for water footprinting - ISO 14046 - is expected to be released later this year as consultation closes this week on a draft version.

The standard will specify the principles, requirements and guidelines of assessing and reporting water footprints and will apply to not only to products, but processes and organisations too.

The standard has been developed in response to demand from businesses for an internationally recognised benchmark that will give water footprinting reporting credibility.

According to BSI, it will allow companies to assess their water footprint either as a standalone study where only the impacts relating to water are considered, or as part of a wider life-cycle assessment where all environmental impacts are considered.

BSI’s head of market development for sustainability David Fatscher told edie that development of ISO 14046 was at the “draft international standard” stage with comments and votes being submitted by national standards bodies to ISO by February 16.

“Comments on this draft will be resolved at the next ISO meeting at the end of May. Following that, a final draft standard will be circulated to the ISO committee members for approval before publication at the end of 2014,” he confirmed.

Fatscher added that an multi-disciplinary expert committee formed of representatives from the paper, food and drink and steel industries had fed into the standard. Organisations involved include the Food and Drink Federation, Institution of Civil Engineers, Water UK, WRAP and the Environment Agency.

According to a briefing note issued by ISO, the International Standard for Standardisation, the standard “can have a positive impact by providing a harmonised framework for the quantification and reporting of water footprints”.

The note also outlined pilot work being carried out in several countries including Africa and Latin America to help build capacity in water footprint assessment and that the lessons learnt from these projects would help inform the development of ISO 14046.

Currently businesses looking to reduce their water use and benchmark their efficiency can apply for certification to the Carbon Trust’s water standard. BSI’s Fatscher declined to comment on how 14046 would rank alongside against this, or expected uptake for the new standard once launched.

edie staff

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