Efficient water use

23 May 2013

Tracking and targeting priority areas where water usage, cost and/or scarcity is greatest around the world

Water is essential for the good operation of our business, in particular for hygiene purposes. We first measured our water footprint in 2008 to inform how we can be more efficient in respect of water use.

We repeated this exercise in 2012 and found that in 2011/12 we directly used 28.7 million m3 of water in our stores and distribution centres. Our average water intensity for the whole business is 0.22m3/ft2. More detail is available at www.tescoplc.com/society/resources.

The retail sector is not an intensive water user, but our measurement work has identified some priority targets for us to focus on:

  • In markets where usage, cost and/or scarcity is high, as a consequence of different local market practices and conditions, our priority is to reduce use and zero-in on where we can improve efficiency.
  • We will learn from the initiatives we have already implemented. For example, in the UK where we use the second largest volume of water, we have installed water efficient equipment as standard in our new stores. This includes waterless urinals and low-flow toilets and taps.
  • In Asia, where water intensity (measured as m3/ft2) is highest, we are also on the road to reduction. In China, our distribution centre in Jiashan, Zhejiang Province has been designed to use 40% less water than a traditional logistics warehouse.
  • In August 2012 our service centre in India introduced rainwater harvesting technology to collect surface run-off and rooftop water. This water is used to meet the centre’s water requirements as well as helping to replenish the water table which benefits the local community.

Whilst we need water to run our own business, nearly 30 times as much water is used to grow, process and manufacture the products we sell. To address use in our supply chain, we have begun work with Cranfield University to launch a water resilience roundtable for our producers. We want to identify and implement solutions which can have a long-term impact across the value chain and support water management and efficiency projects in areas where we have high sourcing demands and where water is scarce.

Whilst we need water to run our own business, nearly 30 times as much water is used to grow, process and manufacture the products we sell.