Mattel recently became a California water agency’s newest recycled water customer, which will save about 2 million gallons of drinking water per year in the drought-stricken state.
The global toy maker, whose brands include Barbie, Fisher-Price and Hot Wheels, among others, told Environmental Leader that using recycled water for irrigation at its El Segundo corporate campus will also save money.
“It does cost less for Mattel to purchase recycled water rather than potable water for irrigation,” said Sarah Levine, Mattel global sustainability manager. “The city of El Segundo and [water district] West Basin both sell recycled water for reduced rates.”
Levine estimates Mattel will use 1.92 million gallons of recycled water per year for irrigation. “Based on the City of El Segundo’s water rates for both potable and recycled water, and the estimated usage, Mattel should spend approximately 40 percent less for the recycled water,” she said.
Mattel joins a diverse group of West Basin’s recycled water users, which include more than 200 municipal, commercial and industrial customers in southern California. West Basin’s water recycling facility is located nearby the Mattel campus in El Segundo where it produces nearly 40 million gallons of recycled water a day, for a total of 175 billion gallons of recycled water produced since 1995.
Using recycled water for not-potable purposes such as irrigation or factory processes sounds like a no-brainer, especially in places like California where water is an increasingly scarce natural resource. So why don’t more companies adopt this water management practice?
Two big challenges, according to corporate recycled water users, are funding and infrastructure.
“The Mattel corporate headquarters location is fortunate that, thanks in part to West Basin’s work, the infrastructure now exists to support reclaimed water usage,” Levine said. “Part of the challenge in the past for using reclaimed water came from the lack of funding, which is quickly becoming increasingly available throughout the region. We had to do quite a bit of work to meet the health department and water code requirements, as well as facilitate construction on our property. West Basin also secured grant funding from the State of California Department of Water Resources in partnership with us to help cover the cost of the project.”
In April, Ford announced plans to transform its Dearborn, Michigan campus into a high-tech, high-efficiency headquarters. This includes buildings that will use 50 percent less water than the current ones, in part by using recycled water — captured from green roofs, rain catchment, porous pavements and native plants — in its manufacturing processes.