Carbon Trust urges businesses to reduce water use

carbon trust

The Carbon Trust has today (19 February), launched the Water Standard, billed as the ‘world’s first’ international award for business water reduction.

According to the Carbon Trust, businesses around the world are ‘not acting fast enough to combat climate change’ and conserve depleting resources.

Indeed, according to the Water Resources Group, ‘there may be a 40 per cent gap between the required [water] demand and the safe available supply of freshwater by 2030’.

Despite this, research carried out by the Carbon Trust found that out of 475 senior executives of ‘large companies’ in the UK, USA, China, South Korea and Brazil, only one in seven had implemented a water reduction target.

The Water Standard has now been introduced to ‘catalyse business action on measuring, managing and reducing water use’. It is hoped it will reportedly ‘fundamentally change businesses’ sustainability benchmarks and the way they are viewed by investors, stakeholders and customers’.

Tom Delay, Chief Executive of the Carbon Trust, explained: “Addressing water use within a business has 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 monitor and manage their water usage and build resource efficiency into future business plans.”

To achieve the Carbon Trust Water Standard organisations must:

  • Measure water input from mains supply, surface water abstraction, groundwater abstraction and rainwater collection;
  • Measure water output as trade effluent;
  • Demonstrate reduction in water use over time to both water inputs and trade effluent. This can be done either in absolute terms, or in water intensity reduction in relation to turnover or product;
  • Achieve a passing score of 60 per cent on a qualitative assessment (including site visit) of water governance, measurement and management.

David Nussbaum, Executive Director of conservation group WWF UK, said: “Water resources are finite, and no resource is more fundamental than water to the health and security of people and the environment. 

“Growing demand, poor management and climate change are creating a global water challenge.  In order to manage risk, organisations need to take action to measure, manage and reduce their water use and to encourage better water management across river basins. 

“Standards such as that developed by the Carbon Trust help open these practices up to rigorous, independent certification; and committing to reducing water use year-on-year lets businesses demonstrate that they have begun the journey towards improved water stewardship.”

Progress in water reduction

The four early adopters of the Carbon Trust Water Standard: Coca Cola Enterprises (CCE), Sainsbury’s, Sunlight and Branston, have all reportedly seen reductions in their water use since adopting the standard.

Changes implemented under the scheme include:

  • Using dry and semi-dry lubricants to move cans and bottles along production lines as well as employing air (rather than water) to rinse bottles and cans before they are filled (CCE);
  • Harvesting rainwater (CCE);
  • Working with water management specialists Waterscan, to eradicate underground water leaks, harvest rainwater and invest in car wash water reclaim units (Sainsbury’s);
  • Using less water per wash cycle and reclaiming and reusing 75 per cent of water used (Sunlight);
  • Reducing mains water consumption by around 60 per cent through investing in a membrane bioreactor (Branston).

Read more about The Carbon Trust Water Standard.