A new handbook is available to help organizations understand how to undertake a water footprint assessment using ISO 14046.
Water availability, both in terms of quantity and quality, is recognized as a key global issue by the United Nations. Businesses (both directly and indirectly through their supply chain), communities and customers have started to request quantitative information about how their production processes place pressure on water resources, in order to understand and tackle the issues under their responsibility. Such quantitative information is known as water footprinting.
Water footprinting involves pulling together metrics that quantify the potential environmental impacts related to water, accounting for both water consumption and water pollution as well as considering the influence of location, timing and other relevant information. To address the issues of both water shortages and the pollution of water bodies, it is critical that companies have correct and relevant data.
A preview of the handbook [PDF] says it helps organizations prepare for and undertake a water footprint assessment using ISO 14046, through practical guidance on not only the main clauses, but also those most open to interpretation.
ISO 14046 Environmental Management-Water Footprint specifies principles and requirements related to water footprint assessment of products, processes and organizations based on life cycle assessment. It provides guidelines for conducting and reporting a water footprint assessment as a stand-alone assessment, or as part of a more comprehensive environmental assessment.
The ISO handbook, ISO 14046 Environmental management – Water footprint – A practical guide for SMEs, developed in partnership with ITC, “help all kinds of organizations, in particular SMEs, better understand the standard and maximize the benefits that it offers,” according to the authors.
Doing a water footprint assessment is just one of many areas of environmental measurement that organizations are attempting to manage, and many are struggling with such measurement. In fact, a staggering 46% of companies that responded to Ethical Corporation’s Responsible Business Trends survey said they’re not accurately measuring the impacts of their sustainability initiatives.