Sustain Launches Materials Water Footprinting

by | Oct 30, 2012

Sustain has secured funding from the Technology Strategy Board to develop a water footprint database for materials, the UK company today announced.

Sustain says the database will be the UK’s first, and will allow manufacturing companies to measure and manage the water footprints of their global supply chains.

The company, whose Inventory of Carbon and Energy database tracks embedded carbon emissions in different materials, did not disclose the funding amount it received for the new water database.

In addition to measuring global water resources, footprinting helps identify consumption in water-scarce region, Sustain says. Water security is increasingly becoming a concern to large corporations and government agencies, and Sustain says neither are doing enough to manage water-related risks. As examples, Sustain points to the 2011 drought in Texas that reportedly cost $5.2 billion dollars to the local economy and this year’s droughts in the Midwest and Spain, projected to push food prices up significantly.

A KPMG analysis of corporate responsibility reports published earlier this month found the majority — 60 percent — of the world’s 250 largest companies lack a long-term water strategy.

Sustain principal associate Dr. Craig Jones said the water footprint database will show companies where the risks lie within their supply chains, and will be the “starting point” for them to start dealing with water security.

Sustain began work on the development of the database in October; the company didn’t say when it will be completed.

Sustain’s water footprint database follows the Carbon Disclosure Project’s Global Water Report, released last week, which said drought, poor quality, flooding and other water-related challenges negatively affected 53 percent of the world’s largest listed companies in the past five years, up from 38 percent last year. Yet there’s been no increase in the number of corporations providing water-related risk assessments to investors, the CDP said.

An Oracle report published around the same time as CDP’s found 39 percent of water executives say demand is “highly likely” to outstrip water supply by 2030, while 54 percent say such a risk is moderately likely.

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