Access to clean water, propere hygiene and the preservation of freshwater ecosystems are essential for human health, environmental sustainability and also economic well-being. The company’s first step towards sustainable operation was calculating its water footprint considering the whole life-cycle of the products.
Water Footprint Calculation
Date: since 2010 continuously
Solutions of the macro-sustainability challenges
Improving the efficiency of water distribution and usage
What´s the solution?
By calculating the water footprint, Unilever assesses the full amount of water it uses to produce the products. It also adds the water used by the consumers for showering, bathing, cleaning and cooking. Measuring their water footprint is carried out accurately and transparently, so they can set and achieve ambitious targets considering their strategy, thus reaching sustainable management.
Measuring the water footprint allows the company to see which products require the most water. Product innovation can also help consumers reduce their footprint, such as the introduction of the so-called SmartFoam product. Special attention is paid to innovation in products used in areas suffering from water scarcity. The company considers how climate change can affect the availability of clean water and the risks, which can be associated with their consumers, suppliers and their operations.
Basically, their business depends heavily on water. Reducing water use is not only about sustainability and environmental protection, but it is also a major factor considering the operations, as it can also end up in financial savings. From the cultivation of plants to the operation of factories, the role of water is essential everywhere. Regarding the later stages of the product life cycle, consumers will also need water during using the products such as cooking or washing. Nowadays, more and more regions are threatened by water scarcity, thus an increasing number of communities, where appropriate quality water is not available. Climate change is only getting worse as we have to face drought and unpredictable weather conditions more frequently. That is why it is important for the company, to be able to measure the amount of water they use directly and indirectly by the consumers. They can also monitor the progress towards the 2020 target which is halving the water consumption.
The company has been calculating the associated footprint since 2010. Unilever’s goal is to halve the water usage of the consumers considering their products by 2020. Achieving this goal is difficult considering the fact that many of their products have a high average water demand and 99% of their footprint is generated during their use.
Results to date: