Global standard to build water efficiency into future business plans

The world's first international award for water reduction aimed at galvanising business action on measuring, managing and reducing water use, has been launched by the Carbon Trust.

According to the Carbon Trust, water is the new frontier in the battle against climate change and the impacts of depleting resources.

The first four organisations to achieve the award; Sainsbury’s, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Sunlight and Branston, have worked in tandem with the Carbon Trust to develop its methodology.

To achieve the Carbon Trust Water Standard an organisation must measure the water input from its mains supply, surface water abstraction, groundwater abstraction and rainwater collection. It must measure water output as trade effluent and demonstrate reduction in water use over time to both water inputs and trade effluent.

It must also achieve a passing score of 60% on a qualitative assessment of water governance, measurement and management.

The Carbon Trust claims businesses need to change their sustainability benchmarks and the way they are viewed by investors, stakeholders and customers.

According to the Carbon Trust, businesses around the world are not acting fast enough, despite the fact that global water use is predicted to increase dramatically by 2030 to a level far exceeding current freshwater availability.

It claims that failure to act will expose businesses to water scarcity issues down the line, which in some cases could lead to increased costs, or could grind operations to a standstill.

Interviews conducted by the Carbon Trust with 475 senior executives of large companies in the UK, USA, China, South Korea and Brazil found that only one in seven of those businesses has set a target on water reduction, or publicly reported on water performance. Of those businesses that do see water as a priority risk, two-thirds listed water availability as an issue, although this figure was significantly higher in countries such as China (78%), Brazil (74%) and South Korea (75%).

Carbon Trust chief executive Tom Delay said: “Addressing water use within a business has, until now, not been high on the agenda for many businesses. However, the harsh realities of future water scarcity mean this needs to change and fast.

“We’ve launched the Water Standard to help companies to monitor and manage their water usage and build resource efficiency into future business plans.

“We know from our extensive experience helping companies to manage carbon reduction that a stringent approach to use of resources can lead to new commercial opportunities and thriving businesses, particularly for those who take the lead here and set the benchmark for others to follow.”

Conor McGlone

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