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 89 percent of our intake is used for cooling and is only slightly heated before being returned to the original source. 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 assessment was carried out in 2013. In total, 93 percent of our sites (2014: 89 percent) have sustainable fresh water management in place, as measured by the AkzoNobel fresh water management risk assessment tool, with a target of 100 percent for 2015. The short fall from the target is due to sites that cannot become sustainable due to their location in a water scarce area. They continue to monitor the local situation and seek improvement options. We will continue with the sustainable fresh water management program beyond 2015.

Water flow in million m3

Environment – Water flow (graphic)Environment – Water flow (graphic)

Sustainable fresh water managementin % of manufacturing sites

Environment – Sustainable fresh water management (bar chart)Environment – Sustainable fresh water management (bar chart)

Sustainable 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 16.0 m3/ton (2014: 15.2 m3/ton)
  • Total fresh water use was 274 million m3, an increase of 4 percent (2014: 263 million m3). An increase of over 10 million m3 was due to the startup of the new chlorine plant in Frankfurt, Germany

Fresh water use in million m3

Environment – Fresh water use (bar chart)Environment – Fresh water use (bar chart)

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

Water emissions

In total, 89 percent of the COD is generated at 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

Environment – Chemical oxygen demand (COD) (bar chart)Environment – Chemical oxygen demand (COD) (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 stable at 0.08 kg/ton
  • The total COD load to surface water was stable at 1.4 kilotons
  • A new treatment plant is being built in Maua, Brazil, and will reduce COD further by 150 tons per year
  • A project has been started to reduce the COD of one of the major contributors by addressing the root cause of the COD