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Sustain Launches Materials Water Footprinting

Sustain has secured funding from the Technology Strategy Board to develop a water footprint database for materials, the UK company today announced.

Sustain says the database will be the UK’s first, and will allow manufacturing companies to measure and manage the water footprints of their global supply chains.

The company, whose Inventory of Carbon and Energy database tracks embedded carbon emissions in different materials, did not disclose the funding amount it received for the new water database.

In addition to measuring global water resources, footprinting helps identify consumption in water-scarce region, Sustain says. Water security is increasingly becoming a concern to large corporations and government agencies, and Sustain says neither are doing enough to manage water-related risks. As examples, Sustain points to the 2011 drought in Texas that reportedly cost $5.2 billion dollars to the local economy and this year’s droughts in the Midwest and Spain, projected to push food prices up significantly.

A KPMG analysis of corporate responsibility reports published earlier this month found the majority — 60 percent — of the world’s 250 largest companies lack a long-term water strategy.

Sustain principal associate Dr. Craig Jones said the water footprint database will show companies where the risks lie within their supply chains, and will be the “starting point” for them to start dealing with water security.

Sustain began work on the development of the database in October; the company didn’t say when it will be completed.

Sustain’s water footprint database follows the Carbon Disclosure Project’s Global Water Report, released last week, which said drought, poor quality, flooding and other water-related challenges negatively affected 53 percent of the world’s largest listed companies in the past five years, up from 38 percent last year. Yet there’s been no increase in the number of corporations providing water-related risk assessments to investors, the CDP said.

An Oracle report published around the same time as CDP’s found 39 percent of water executives say demand is “highly likely” to outstrip water supply by 2030, while 54 percent say such a risk is moderately likely.

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3 thoughts on “Sustain Launches Materials Water Footprinting

  1. Databases are critical to be able to measure water footprint and build a consistent water strategy. Quantis created a water footprint database that is now available to all companies and governments: http://www.quantis-intl.com/waterdatabase.php including more than 4000 processes covering materials, electricity, fuels, transportation, etc. Quantis already used this database in tens of projects around the world.

  2. The Water Footprint Network (www.waterfootprint.org) provides the comprehensive database “WaterStat”, which includes:

    – Product water footprint statistics: the green, blue and grey water footprints of crops, derived crop products, biofuels, and farm animal products. All data are available at national and sub-national level.

    – National water footprint statistics: the green, blue and grey water footprints of national production and consumption.

    – International virtual water flow statistics, providing information on international virtual water trade flows and on water savings related to international trade.

    – Water scarcity statistics, providing data on blue water scarcity per river basin on a monthly basis.

    – Water pollution level statistics per river basin.

    Those data are freely available at http://www.waterfootprint.org/?page=files/WaterStat (as images, in spreadsheet format or as rastermaps/shapefiles).

    Those data are the basis (together with the global standard for water footprint assessment, as developed by the Water Footprint Network: free download at http://www.waterfootprint.org/?page=files/WaterFootprintAssessmentManual) for the Water Footprint Assessment Tool, version 1.0 to be released in December 2012 (free access at http://www.waterfootprint.org/?page=files/waterfootprintassessmenttool).

  3. In my honest opinion, Water Footprint Network provides the most extensive list of raw data on Water Footprint of products. Other sources derive their so-called database on water footprint from them, if not all of them. The only shortcoming in their database is that it doesn’t cover manufactured industrial products at product level. This short coming is a major playfield for socalled new databases such as Quantis and this new one. I wonder what new addition can the new project at Sustain would bring, besides pulling all the data from Quantis and WFN (Water Footprint Network). Similar project has just recently been launched by WRAP, they have also comissioned a consultant, URS (though I’m not hundred percent sure), to compile a list of the water footprint of 70-80 products consumed in the UK. I see a lot of duplicate efforts and waste of resources at UK, and no wonder that they are in recession…..

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