Note 18: Water

Fresh water availability

Sustainable water supply is essential to life – and to the sustainability of our business. We rely on water for raw materials production, product formulation and manufacturing, as well as power generation, cooling, cleaning, transporting and for the effective use of some products. Around 88 percent of our fresh water intake is from surface water and 88 percent of our intake is used for cooling and is only slightly heated. In addition to the intake of fresh water, the emission of contaminated water from our sites to surface waters may negatively impact fresh water resources and eco-systems. We continue to reduce the chemical oxygen demand (COD) of our effluent to surface water.

We monitor our progress using a fresh water risk assessment tool, which is completed at least bi-annually by each manufacturing site. The tool assigns risk levels to water sources, supply reliability, efficiency, quality of discharges, compliance and social competitive factors. Sustainable fresh water management is defined as a low risk score in all categories. In 2013, the assessment was carried out, and the major risk identified was sourcing water in water scarce areas.

Sustainable fresh water management in % of manufacturing sites

Sustainable fresh water management in % of manufacturing sites (bar chart)

Sustainable fresh water management is defined as a low risk score in all categories in the AkzoNobel sustainable fresh water assessment tool: water sources, supply reliability, efficiency, quality of discharges, compliance and social competitive factors.

  • 85 percent of our sites (2012: 83 percent) have sustainable fresh water management in place, as measured by the AkzoNobel fresh water management risk assessment tool
  • Fresh water use per ton of production is down to 14.9 m3/ton (2012: 15.3 m3/ton)
  • Total fresh water use was 265 million m3, a decrease of 6 percent (2012: 283 million m3)

Fresh water use in million m3

Fresh water use in million m3 (bar chart)

Fresh water use is the sum of the intake of ground water, surface water and potable water.

Water emissions

Reductions in COD in effluent are being achieved across the company.

  • The COD load to surface water per ton of production reduced to 0.08 kg/ton (2012: 0.09 kg/ton)
  • The total COD load to surface water was down 10 percent to 1.4 kilotons (2012: 1.6 kilotons)

Chemical oxygen demand (COD) in kilotons

Chemical oxygen demand (COD) in kilotons (bar chart)

COD is the amount of oxygen required for the chemical oxidation of substances in the waste water effluent that is discharged into surface waters.