The global infrastructure and finance provider released its 2012 Our Global Impact update today, in which it revealed it had reduced freshwater use by 25%.

Last year, GE’s freshwater use was 7.43 billion gallons, a 46% reduction from the 2006 baseline, and an 18% decrease from 2011.

In May 2008, the company announced its intention to reduce freshwater consumption by 20% in 2012 from a 2006 baseline. In early 2009, it modified the goal to a 25% reduction by 2015.

GE measures such progress by annually collecting water data for sites consuming more than 15 million gallons a year, which collectively account for around 90% of the company’s total freshwater usage.

This includes water used for potable, process and sanitary purposes as well as once-through cooling waters from freshwater sources.

Out of these 65 sites, five were identified as being in potentially extremely water-scarce regions while 19 were found to be in areas with a medium level of water scarcity.

The company puts latest success in this field down to the implementation of continuous improvement water reduction opportunities at selected sites, and product testing campaigns.

Another action under way will potentially reduce GE’s global water use by up to an estimated 5%.

A large project at one of its US plants will utilise process technology equipment, including membrane technologies, to recycle and reuse water. GE anticipates the new system will be operational by 2015

The company is also looking to target various sites located in water-scarce areas starting in 2014.

Maxine Perella

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