The scheme will help businesses to demonstrate their leadership in sustainability by certifying the life cycle water use of their products to an international standard. They will also be able to communicate certification this with confidence through use of the Carbon Trust’s Water Footprint label.
Water footprinting can help businesses to better understand the life cycle sustainability impacts of their products, uncovering hotspots such as pollution, or competing demands in areas of water stress and scarcity. This can be used to identify areas to materially improve the water efficiency and sustainability of products, as well as to pre-empt regulatory or supply chain risks. Greater water efficiency can also result in some very compelling cost savings, particularly where energy is required to cool, heat or pump that water.
Freshwater quality and availability are expected to be amongst the greatest sustainability challenges of the twenty-first century. Because of trends including urbanisation and economic development, the UN projects that global water demand will grow by 55 percent by 2050.
But reserves are currently being over-exploited in a number of regions, with half a billion people currently experiencing water shortages. By 2025 it has been estimated by the UN that two out of every three people in the world will live in a region facing water stress.
Businesses will be key to solving water challenges. Agriculture accounts for more than 70 percent of total global freshwater use, which makes water a serious concern for any business whose products rely on an agricultural input. And the manufacturing industry is expected to see the most significant growth in water demand, which is projected to increase by 400 percent between 2000 and 2050.
Darran Messem, Managing Director of Certification at the Carbon Trust, said:
“Companies that have been working hard to become more sustainable recognise the long term importance of getting a grip on the water use associated with their products. Understanding a full life cycle water footprint can help to focus efforts on reducing the most significant environmental impacts of products. But it also makes good business sense to highlight areas of unforeseen risk and cost-saving opportunity. We would encourage any organisations that are interested in finding out how they could become the first in their sector to achieve life cycle water footprint certification to get in touch.”