Note 19: 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 89 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. 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. In total, 89 percent of our sites (2013: 85 percent) have sustainable fresh water management in place, as measured by the AkzoNobel fresh water management risk assessment tool.

Water flow
in million m3

Water flow, in million m3 (graphic)Water flow, in million m3 (graphic)

Sustainable fresh water management
in % of manufacturing sites

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

  • Fresh water use per ton of production increased to 15.2 m3/ton (2013: 14.9 m3/ton)
  • Total fresh water use was 263 million m3, a decrease of 1 percent (2013: 265 million m3) due to lower production rates

Fresh water use
in million m3

Fresh water use, in million m3 (bar chart)Fresh water use, in million m3 (bar chart)

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

Improvement projects include:

  • Water saving workshops at seven Decorative Paints sites identified average savings of more than 20 percent of annual consumption from reduction and re-use projects
  • New evaporators at our Rotterdam site will reduce cooling water by 5 million m3 a year

Water emissions

In total, 89 percent of the COD is generated in ten production locations, with the remainder being generated by numerous sites. These ten locations are the primary focus for improvement actions.

Chemical oxygen demand (COD)
in kilotons

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

  • The COD load to surface water per ton of production remained at 0.08 kg/ton
  • The total COD load to surface water was stable at 1.4 kilotons
  • Waste water treatment improvements at our Mauà site have reduced COD emissions by 30 tons a year. A planned new treatment plant will reduce COD further by 150 tons per year
  • Our Santo Andre site is now connected to the municipal waste water treatment plant, reducing COD emissions by 80 tons a year