With a busy week behind you and the weekend within reach, there’s no shame in taking things a bit easy on Friday afternoon. With this in mind, every Friday TriplePundit will give you a fun, easy read on a topic you care about. So, take a break from those endless email thread and spend five minutes catching up on the latest trends in sustainability and business.
This Sunday, March 22, is World Water Day -- a day to celebrate water and make a difference for those who lack access to it. To mark the occasion, this week we're rounding up 10 companies that are proven leaders in water stewardship.
Unilever has also reduced water use in its manufacturing process by 29 percent per ton of production, as compared to a 2008 baseline. The company also plans to source all of its agricultural products sustainably by 2020, with water impact being one of seven key indicators.
The company is also piloting a farm-level benchmarking tool, called SmartBarley, that allows growers to compare their crop yields and environmental impact side-by-side with their peers. Last year, the company scaled the program to reach more than 1,900 barley growers across Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Mexico, Russia, the U.S. and Uruguay. If that's not enough, the company is also a signatory to the U.N. Global Compact CEO Water Mandate and a member of its steering committee.
It saved nearly 3.6 billion gallons of water in its direct operations in 2013, the most recent year data is available. The company is also active in the fight to increase access to clean drinking water around the world: PepsiCo and the PepsiCo Foundation operate water conservation, distribution, purification and hygiene initiatives for underserved communities in China, India, Mali, Brazil, Colombia and other Latin American countries.
All this hard work paid off: Earlier this month, the company hit a major milestone with respect to water stewardship: It saved its billionth gallon of water through sustainability initiatives since 2011.
The company also aims to improve water efficiency in its manufacturing operations by 25 percent by 2020 (compared to a 2010 baseline). It has improved systemwide water efficiency for 11 straight years -- for an 8 percent total reduction in water use. The company already met its initial goal to improve water efficiency by 20 percent from 2004 to 2012, with a 21.4 percent improvement.
General Mills CEO Ken Powell declared the company’s commitment to water conservation at the the Nature Conservancy's Global Water Summit in Chicago last year, saying: “We know that without healthy water for land, ecosystems and wildlife, agriculture simply does not work. Businesses languish. Economies falter. People suffer.”
Following Powell's statements, the company released a new water policy, which includes the company’s direct operations and its suppliers. It is committed to ensuring that its direct operations don’t “encroach on the human right to water and sanitation in the communities in which we operate,” according to the policy.
In 2013, the company's total water withdrawal was nearly 8 billion gallons. More than half of this total -- around 4.1 billion gallons -- "was directly returned to the environment by Mars at the same or higher quality than when it was extracted," the company said. In addition to replenishing water, Mars aims to reduce its overall water use by 25 percent by the end of this year (compared to a 2007 baseline). The company managed to cut water use by 13.6 percent between 2007 and 2013, and we'll keep our eyes on how they stack up to their lofty 2015 goal.
Image credit: Flickr/Barbara Walsh
Mary Mazzoni, Senior Editor, has written for TriplePundit since 2013. She is also Managing Editor of CR Magazine and the Editor of 3p’s Sponsored Series. Mazzoni’s recent work can be found in Conscious Company, AlterNet and VICE’s Motherboard. She is based in Philadelphia.