Water scarcity is an issue in several of the countries in which we operate and is a problem affecting some of our suppliers.
Water shortages are an increasingly common concern around the world and are exacerbated by a number of factors including climate change and population increase.
However, water stress is a very local issue affecting regions and countries differently. It's therefore important we focus our efforts on those regions and countries where they will have the biggest impact. Priority areas include US, Turkey and some regions of China.
Although water used in our supply chain far outweighs that in our direct operations, we believe its important to manage our resources carefully and this year we carried out surveys of water use across the Group.
We are looking at reducing our direct water usage across the Group. Examples include:
- In August 2012 our service centre in India introduced rainwater harvesting technology to collect surface run-off and rooftop water. This water will be used to meet the centre's water requirements as well as helping to replenish the water table which will benefit the local community.
- Our distribution centre in Jiashan province, China, which opened in July 2011 has been designed to use 40% less water than a traditional logistics warehouse.
- In our zero-carbon stores we meter our water usage and check for water leakage and wastage. We use infra-red tap and toilet controls to stop water being wasted. We are also reducing our use of treated water from the mains supply by gathering rainwater to use for purposes such as flushing toilets.
Our analysis suggests that our direct water footprint is less than 3% of our supply chain footprint. We are continuing to work with our suppliers on water reduction plans in areas where sustainable management of water would deliver big benefits.
Examples of water stewardship projects in our supply chain
Lake Naivasha is the second largest fresh water lake in Kenya. The surrounding area is a major exporter of cut flowers to Europe. Various pressures such as a growing population and an increase in agriculture and horticulture are having significant impacts on biodiversity, water availability and water quality. Careful water stewardship is necessary to reverse the degradation of the lake and protect the communities that rely on it. We are supporting the Lake Naivasha, multi-stakeholder, water stewardship project. Our funding and expertise is helping to raise the water levels and reduce water pollution. Educational programmes will promote more sustainable water management practices across the community including residents and farmers.
We are also funding a water stewardship programme in our clothing supply chain in Bangladesh a country where 31 million people do not have access to clean water. We are working with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Solidaridad, an international NGO, and the Department for International development (DFID). The ‘Cleaner Production Programme’ pilot project has already helped the twelve participating factories save $1 million and reduce water consumption by 75 million litres and is currently being scaled up.