Some companies are already dealing actively with one of our most important resources, water, but many still don’t. We would like you to use the “World Water Day” to think about the importance of a limited resource. At the same time, we want to point out that there are numerous ways for companies to score in this field.
In our latitudes, water is not yet perceived as a limited resource. If we drop terms like ‘commencing water shortage’, ‘water footprint’ or ‘water strategies for companies’ we see questioning faces. At the same time, a study of the University of Resources and Life Sciences and the Austrian Association for Gas and Water ÖVGW (2016) reveals, that water scarcity can also be a problem in Austria. On international level, the importance of water has already been recognized. In the sustainable goals of the United Nations (Sustainable Development Goals) for 2030, water already plays an essential role and is embedded in goals like ‘Clean Water and Sanitation’, ‘Sustainable consumption and Production’, ‘Climate action’ or ‘Sustainable Cities’. Thus the time has come to take water into account as a decisive factor for operational and strategic considerations and decisions:
Water can be a major economic factor in production. After all, companies pay for their water consumption and for its treatment. Therefore, efficient use brings not only environmental advantages but also influences the company balance sheet. With the right methods and strategies water saving opportunities and potential risks can be revealed and located. A simple water monitoring for example gives information about possible water losses and savings. This way Mautner Markhof Feinkost GmbH succeeded in saving 5.300 m³ of water within 3 years.
Water-Footprint: A question of framing:
If you want to take a closer look at your “Water Footprint” it is not enough to look within your own processes, you have to go further. In order to successfully develop the appropriate improvement measures, it is necessary to analyze the activities of the company along the entire value chain with regard to potential weaknesses concerning water. This is the only way to define whether the largest amounts of water are used or polluted during the production of raw materials (e.g. sugar cane cultivation), during the production itself or during the usage phase (e.g. soap). In addition to quantities, risks and opportunities can also be defined and located. In 2011, The Coca-Cola Company, together with denkstatt, evaluated the effects of the sugar beet cultivation in different areas. With the help of the collected data, sensitive areas were identified where the current water situation can lead to restrictions for agriculture in the future and therefore affect the sugar delivery. Hence strategic initiatives were developed.
OMV AG can also be seen as a pioneer when it comes to water strategies. The development of their comprehensive water strategy already started in 2014 with a group-wide analysis of water risks and the preparation of water management plans, using some well-known tools such as the IPIECA Global Water Tool. In 2015, the company-wide water strategy was successfully implemented. This has led OMV to a sector leading position on an international level in CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project) Water!