March 21, 2023
The world needs to speed up water action fourfold to give everyone access to clean water by 2030. Water has long been under-prioritised among environmental initiatives but is now gaining momentum. The UN is holding its first global conference on freshwater in almost 50 years – and water management has now become a focus area and an integral part of Tetra Pak’s larger Nature strategy.
“Companies are, in fact, the world’s largest water users, so we have a responsibility to do our part to manage water better,” says Gilles Tisserand, Vice President of Climate & Biodiversity at Tetra Pak.
That responsibility has turned into a new water stewardship plan that sees Tetra Pak working towards halving the water consumption of best-practice food processing lines by 2030.
“The UN predicts that water demand will outstrip supply with 40% by 2030. Our operations, and the use of our products, impact local water resources, and we want to reduce this impact and contribute to global water resilience,” says Gilles.
But most of the work must be done with other industry leaders. As a member of the Alliance for Water Stewardship, for example, Tetra Pak will work to adopt and promote a universal framework for the sustainable use of water.
“We have to work hard to ensure future generations have access to enough clean water. We need to collaborate across industries and across the entire value chain to make a real difference.”
To fully understand the impact of our value chain, we completed a study with Quantis, an environmental sustainability consultancy. The results: Most of our water consumption comes from upstream purchases and our customers’ water use – not our own operations.
“The study was a bit of an eye-opener to me, but the message was clear. We need to work together to have an impact. At the same time, we already work closely with many of our customers, so it was a natural next step to include water management in our collaborations,” says Gilles.
Read more about the Quantis study results here
Working with the industry leader in liquid dairy products in Thailand, Dairy Plus, Tetra Pak developed a three-phase plan to reduce water consumption in their factory.
“By reducing the utilisation of the wastewater treatment facility to 60%, we created additional capacity. This allowed us to enhance and improve our entire production infrastructure,” says Ussawathap Saensuth, Manufacturing Director of Dairy Plus Co., Ltd.
With the project's first phase completed, the initial water savings amount to 400 tonnes per day, equivalent to saving an Olympic size swimming pool per week.
The Quantis water analysis also makes it possible to start reporting to external parties such as the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) and the Science Based Targets Network (SBTN).
“One of the most powerful and effective things we can do is to set targets and report to external parties. It’s a great way of objectively assessing progress,” says Gilles.
And the world is in urgent need of progress now. Around 700 million people risk being displaced by intense water scarcity by 2030. But this warning also offers an opportunity. According to the CDP, the business opportunities of investing in water security are estimated at US$711 billion.
“We need to continue to improve our water management, and the way forward is to keep tracking our progress and set ambitious targets. That will be our guiding light towards a world with enough water,” concludes Gilles.
Tetra Pak joined hundreds of companies to call for a mandatory assessment and disclosure of nature to be included in the Global Biodiversity Framework.