A Wave of Change is Here
Role of Companies in Building Net-Zero Manufacturing
Finally, in 2021, "net-zero water" has become more critical to address. While companies across various industries are attempting to revamp their relationship with the use and waste practices of the past, many have yet to address this important issue.
Water use contributes to 10 percent of all global greenhouse emissions. Industries like electronics, food, pharmaceuticals, and metals account for 70% of the world's water use. It is time to address water security along with greenhouse gas emissions in your strategies for “net-zero” manufacturing.
Companies should think about water mitigation strategies, reducing these risks to reduce expenditures and increase resiliency in the face of an unknown future.
In a recent analysis of the water-related disclosures of nearly 3,000 companies, by CDP Worldwide in the CDP, 2020 Global Water Report (a copy is available here free of charge) water risks may pose major challenges to companies in the coming years. “Companies need to invest to address these risks, to minimize their impacts and build resilience to the increasing water risks they will be facing in the coming years. Water scarcity, flooding, and chronic pollution,” are among the risks noted in the report.
The report summarizes that many companies should expect to spend $301 billion in potential water risks, more than five times the $55 billion of investment needed to mitigate those risks. The report also suggests that such mitigations can lead to opportunities for water-related savings and revenue gains worth $711 billion.
While more companies are thinking of ways to reduce water use, many are falling short in improving water quality. Less than 60% monitor wastewater discharge but not the quality of such discharges, “a basic action that all companies should be taking.” Less than 5% set pollution targets and report on their progress.
What does this all mean when operating a manufacturing site?
Exergy recommends that sites conduct a full-scale water use and waste review. A review of operating units with water-consuming processes will reveal the practices of needs to be modified or updated. Also, the use and waste of material can be thoroughly evaluated, especially if it leads to water use and discharge. Exergy's proven strategy for the review of water-intensive manufacturing processes allow for a comprehensive evaluation of the opportunities for water use reduction and wastewater elimination. We have proven over and over again that this work leads to cost savings in both operating costs as well as process quality improvements in every case.
A Water-Use Revolution and Transformation in Production
The CDP report shows that a thriving, sustainable economy with universal and equitable access to water supplies and sanitation, freshwater biodiversity, decreased disease burden, and fewer pandemics can only be achieved through “a water-use revolution” and a transformation in production. Companies play an important leadership role in developing water initiatives in water stressed communities and regions, and they should aggressively address such impacts across the globe.