Chemical company pledges to cut drinking water use

Global chemical company BASF has unveiled ambitious targets to cut the amount of drinking water used across all its sites in areas of water stress by 50% by 2020, against a 2010 baseline.

BASF’s ambition to use water responsibly forms part of an on going commitment to operate more sustainably across its operations as it also looks to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The responsible use of water as a resource and plans to implement sustainable water management systems at all of its production sites in areas of water stress have been put in place as part of its water resource ambition.

It also aims to build on its work to reduce water emissions from its production processes to help improve water quality. In 2011, emissions of organic substances to water decreased by about 74%, nitrogen by 87% and heavy metals by 61%.

According to BASF, it is targeting responsible water use as its businesses is water intensive. Water is used in manufacturing, cooling and cleaning and as a result it is accelerating its efforts to reuse “as much water as possible in circulation”. It has already been recirculating water used in flow and closed-circuit cooling since 2010.

Meanwhile, a new water supply concept developed at its Verbund site in Antwerp has drawn water from surface water in a tidal freshwater area – rather than use drinking water since 2011.

BASF states that it plans to “systematically evaluate the sustainability of our water sources and to identify potential risks regarding future water supply”, adding that by 2015 it has plans in place to review water conservation concepts at its production sites.

To achieve further reductions and meet targets, BASF competence centre environment, health and safety president Dr. Ulrich von Deessen said it plans to “continue to optimise process within its businesses and invest in new plants”.

It also plans to increase the energy efficiency of its production processes, with a goal of improving efficiency by 35% by 2020. Figures for 2011 show energy efficiency increased by 26%, against a 2002 baseline.

BASF executive board member Margret Suckale, said: “Since BASF operates in an energy-intensive industry, our success depends on securing a long-term, competitive supply of energy and raw materials. Therefore, we are constantly working on boosting our worldwide energy efficiency.”

Carys Matthews

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