Watching our Water

22 Jan 2014

Read how Tesco is reducing its water footprint

Lynda McKay talks about how Tesco is reducing its water footprint

Lynda McKay

In the UK it can be easy to take our water supply for granted – it’s there at the turn of a tap. As a society we are using more and more and it’s alarming to think that a tap which drips just one drop per second can waste as much as 1,200 litres per year. Managing water use now so that we can secure supplies for future generations is something we all need to take seriously.  

The recently published Water Bill, for example, not only provides customers with greater choice about their water supplier but also has a focus on sustainability and efficiency. While the retail industry is not an intensive user of water, a safe and secure water supply is integral to our operations so we have a clear responsibility to use it wisely.  

My job at Tesco is to analyse our water use and to put in place plans that ensure we are using our water supplies as efficiently as possible. Our water conservation project is an important example of how we are using our scale for good.  

Key elements include:

  • Collecting water consumption data at every Tesco store, both in the UK and abroad. By building up a profile of how we use water, in part through a new reporting dashboard, we can quickly address instances of higher than average usage, leakage and water wastage.

Water Meter

  • Fitting water efficient taps and toilets as standard in all our new stores and installing thousands of devices that will make existing assets more water efficient (according to industry averages this could help us achieve water savings of up to 30%). We are also refurbishing a number of our rainwater harvesting projects to ensure they are effective as possible.
  • Forecasting our water demand more accurately so that we can quicker identify leaks. This is especially important in winter when low temperatures can cause pipes to burst, often left unnoticed for long periods of time. 
  • Embedding water management into our maintenance routines so that we stay on top of problems like dripping taps, leaky pipes and overflowing storage tanks. We are also in the process of auditing our sites – something which is already seeing clear consumption reductions across our stores and distribution centres.   

For us, better water management is a win-win. We see it as a long term requirement and we will continue to develop our water management strategy. Taking responsibility for managing our water usage more effectively gives us better control, benefits the environment and reduces unnecessary costs.  

Just another example that every little helps.