Sustainable fresh water management

AkzoNobel is concerned with the sustainable use and the conservation of water resources worldwide. We are aiming to achieve sustainable fresh water management at our production sites by 2015, as we recognize 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, power generation, cooling, cleaning, transporting and for effective use of some products.

In July 2010, AkzoNobel signed the UN Global Compact CEO Water Mandate. By doing so, we have committed to developing our programs over time for: direct operations, supply chain and watershed management, collective action, public policy, community engagement and transparency. We also took part in the 2010 Carbon Disclosure Project water assessment.

We are currently defining an integrated, company-wide Water Program, including expert resource support for improvements, which has included benchmarking our efforts with the leaders in the water initiatives.

Current progress

We assess our progress using the AkzoNobel sustainable fresh water assessment tool, which evaluates risks in six categories: water sources, supply reliability, efficiency, quality of discharges, compliance and social competitive factors. Sustainable management is indicated by a low risk score in all categories.

During 2009, our manufacturing sites completed the self-assessments – the results indicated that 38 percent of sites have sustainable fresh water in place (see our corporate website for more details). Our manufacturing sites will update their assessments every two years. The focus in 2010 has been on validating and updating the assessment tool and analyzing the preliminary results for common risks areas. Information on water use and discharges is included in the Environmental performance section of this report.

Our sites are now developing improvement plans that may include investments in infrastructure and technology, changes in water use, improvements in water discharges, managing community and social water issues, etc. The improvement activity for water use and discharges will be integrated with our operational eco-efficiency program, described in the Manufacturing section. The quick scans have already identified opportunities for reuse of wash, cooling and other process waters, as well as improving controls for cooling water and heat extraction. Improvements already achieved include:

  • In Australia, production was relocated to a customer location to take advantage of surplus recycled water
  • Surface water has replaced ground water as the source for a site in the Netherlands
  • Extensive recycle and reuse systems have been implemented at salt production sites in Europe, including reuse of condensate and recirculation of process water via technologies such as deionization.

Other aspects

Eco-efficiency assessment, which includes water, is at the heart of sustainability reviews for our eco-premium solutions and all major projects – to achieve a balance between environmental footprint and cost effectiveness. Our portfolio includes a number of processes/products that support more efficient water use, recycling and improved water/waste water treatment. Water scarcity, stricter regulation and consumer requirements for lower impact solutions are expected to provide increased opportunities for the future.

Our Supportive Supplier Visits program already reviews the water use and discharges of our critical suppliers in high growth economies, where required improvement plans are progressed and closed. In 2011, we will review how we might extend our sustainable water management.

Our commitment to sustainable fresh water management requires our sites to engage with local authorities and communities to understand the risks related to water supply and competition for water uses. Our sites also support local communities through community panels and projects. A recent project in Cikarang, Indonesia, involved 60 employees, in partnership with a local NGO, initiating a new local waste management system to separate household waste, which results in less land and water contamination.

Sustainable fresh water management
in %sites

Sustainable fresh water management (bar chart)

Sustainable fresh water management is defined as a low risk score in all categories in the AkzoNobel sustainable fresh water assessment tool.

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