Focusing on the heavy water demands in agriculture, a University of Western Australia professor has pressed for the introduction of water-use labeling policies, so that at the point of sale consumers can easily identify how much water is involved in production of goods and identify what region the water comes from.
Citing the success in informing consumers and driving down energy usage through introduction of the Energy Star rating system, UWA Adjunct Professor, Dr Brent Clothier, urged the introduction of a water labeling while presenting at an agronomy conference Food Security from Sustainable Agriculture” in New Zealand, reported farming website Stock and Land.
Dr Clothier said the introduction of water footprints would increase consumer awareness of water use and encourage the purchase and subsequent production of more water efficient products, and that agriculture was by far the largest user of fresh water in Australia and New Zealand, providing both countries with challenges to use less irrigated water. (You can find information on Australia’s National Water Initiative here.)
According to Clothier, retailers and supermarkets “wanted water foot-printing protocols introduced, to help meet growing concerns about water use in food and fiber production and to secure their own place as better providers of sustainable products,” reported Stock and Land.
Although the concept of water labeling has yet to gain traction at the government level, retailers such as Wal-Mart are making major investments, as much as $1 billion for the global retail giant, in supply chain sustainability in agriculture.
The Carbon Disclosure Project, for the first time in 2010, surveyed globally leading companies about water use and conservation issues, publishing its Water Disclosure Global Report. CDP says demand for water is projected to outstrip supply by up to 40 percent by 2030 and approximately 80 percent of the world’s population already lives in areas where fresh water supply is not secure.
The Coca-Cola Company, together with the environmental group The Nature Conservancy, recently conducted three pilot studies that look at the water footprint of Coca-Cola products and ingredients.