Company Water Profile

 

A key aspect of the Disclosure Framework is the Company Water Profile, a high-level overview of a company’s water issues and management efforts. In essence, the profile provides an executive summary that, due to its brevity (one or two pages), adds context and meaning to the wider array of more detailed water-related information that the company offers. Profiles are designed to offer a snapshot of water performance, risks, impacts, and response strategies that nontechnical audiences can easily understand. For some companies, particularly SMEs or those for which water is only marginally significant, the profile may constitute the only water-related information disclosed.

Components of the Company Water Profile

Company Water Profiles will vary with respect to length and sophistication depending on the maturity of a company’s water management; however, a profile should be brief and include the following basic information regarding the following components (click to expand):

Companies describe generally how they utilize water resources (e.g., their operational uses for water, the nature of their water discharge, the importance of water to the value chain, the water use of their products). Ultimately, readers should come away with a clear idea of how the company utilizes water resources and why and to what extent water is important for business viability.
The company’s water challenges and opportunities Companies then provide a high-leveldiscussion of the opportunities and challenges that water poses to the businessand the extent to which water-related issues are relevant for the company generally. This discussion synthesizes information about how the company uses water with a discussion of global water trends and specific basin conditions in order to provide an overview of the company’s water-related business risks, opportunities, and impacts.
A profile can also summarize the steps the company is taking to address water-related risks and impacts and to seize water-related opportunities. Such a summary can touch upon many issues, ranging from a high-level commitment to water sustainability to specific company policies and strategies. Profiles will vary depending on the maturity of the management practices. Some companies may choose to situate the maturity of their water management practice within a broader continuum and articulate how they anticipate their strategies and programs will grow and evolve over time.

A profile offers a chance to provide a quantitative snapshot of companywide water-related performance and risk. To do so, the company demonstrates its performance over time with respect to the profile metrics:

  1. Total and percentage of withdrawals located in water-stressed or water-scarce areas
  2. Percent of facilities with a water-related regulatory compliance violation
  3. Percent of facilities adhering to relevant water quality standards
  4. Average water intensity in water-stressed or water-scarce areas (as appropriate)

Ideally, a company will display numerous years of data for these metrics (in chart or tabular format) in order to demonstrate performance over time, using a base year to track progress. The articulation of targets for one or more of the metrics can also serve to reinforce relevant policy commitments and strategies.

Lastly, profiles allow companies to shed light on the water-stressed and high-risklocations (or hot spots)where they are most likely to experience water risks or create negative impacts. Ideally, a company will provide a list of water-stressed (or otherwise high-risk) basins where it has operations. The Context subsection of Section 5 offers guidance on how companies can conduct a basic assessment of
hot spots.

 

Applications

A Company Water Profile can serve several functions and can be presented in numerous formats, including the following:

  • The executive summary of a water-specific sustainability report
  • A water-related summary in short sustainability reports
  • A page in the company website
  • Part of the annual report

Example of an effective Company Water Profile

As a beverage company, water is a vital part of our business. Water is used to irrigate many of the crops that are key inputs into our products. It also serves as an important ingredient for many of our products. Our production process requires significant amounts of water and results in water discharge that may include high levels of suspended solids and organic matter.

Many of the existing and emerging water challenges are very real threats to our business that must be addressed proactively. Water stress threatens our ability to maintain consistent production, and as a relatively large water user in some water-stressed regions, we also run the risk of being perceived as restricting local access to water services and limiting environmental flows. Water pollution can increase our operational costs and compromise the quality of our product. Furthermore, because our products have relatively low value per volume (especially when compared to other products such as electronics or oil), almost all of our products are made quite close to the regions they are sold. The local nature of our business means that we have a great stake in ensuring sustainable management of shared water resources in the regions where we operate.

For these reasons, we are committed to improving our water management processes so that we can maintain consistent and high-quality production well into the future. We strive to improve in many ways. We drive operational efficiency in all of our direct operations with rigorous measurement processes and new technologies. We work with local water utilities in several basins to improve management capacity, thus allowing the whole basin to get more out of available water supplies. In the Water-intensity metrics may not be useful or appropriate for all companies and industry sectors. Water-intensity metrics may not be useful or appropriate for all companies and industry sectors.

2012 2013 2014
Percentage of withdrawals located in water-stressed areas 45% 50% 48%
Percent of facilities with a water-related compliance violation 15% 15% 5%
Percent of facilities consistently implementing tertiary wastewater treatment 60% 64% 78%
Average water intensity in water-stressed areas 6.3 ML/ML 5.9 ML/ML 4.3 ML/ML

In the last three years, though the volume of water withdrawn in water-stressed regions has remained relatively stable, we have made significant strides in improving water intensity in these areas. We have been able to use roughly the same amount of water each year despite substantial increases in production volume. Furthermore, though we had four regulatory compliance violations in 2013 (two of which occurred at our facility in Phnom Penh, Cambodia), in 2014 only one of our twenty facilities had a compliance violation after implementing more thorough companywide monitoring policies and practices.

We have used our internal knowledge to better understand which of our operations are located in water-stressed areas (and therefore may be higher water management priorities). These operations are located in:

  • Santiago basin (Chile)
  • Murray-Darling basin (Australia)
  • San Joaquin basin (United States)