At Danone, we believe that protecting water should be part of a global and collective fight to responsibly manage the water cycle.
There are many diverse causes for water wastage: from leaks, bad habits and a shortage of technology or logistical support to a lack of knowledge and education and the absence of suitable infrastructure. This is a crucial issue considering the severe consequences it can have on mankind and the planet. In order to remind everyone of how important water is, the UN created a video called ‘Water is our World’ for World Water Day.
“Water resources, and the range of services they provide, underpin poverty reduction, economic growth and environmental sustainability. From food and energy security to human and environmental health, water contributes to improvements in social well-being and growth, affecting the livelihoods of billions”, states the UN on the World Water Day website.
Preserving this precious natural resource has become of paramount importance for governments and companies around the world.
Danone has also put it at the top of its priority list and developed an entire strategy on the matter and, as part of the Nature 2020 programme, the group is tackling the subject from several angles. In order to measure and interpret the water cycle, the group has designed the ‘Water Scarcity Footprint’, a water footprint assessment methodology which takes water stress factors into account. Committed to protecting springs and respecting natural cycles, Danone created a water resource management tool to be used at the local level in partnership with RAMSAR and the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature). Named SPRING, it has been deployed across 100% of the Waters division’s sites. Danone is also aiming to reduce water consumption in all of its factories by 60% between 2000 and 2020, and already reached savings of 39% in 2014.
Several of the innovative projects set up by Danone around the world have resulted in less water being used and it also being recycled. The ‘Water Watcher’ programme has been specifically developed by the Waters division to help factories achieve this goal by enabling them to analyse water consumption at each stage of the industrial process and implement action plans in order to make significant reductions.
Construction to improve wastewater treatment at the Evian factory drew to a close in 2014, with the company now a world pioneer in the treatment of industrial sewage (discharged wastewater).
The new, cutting-edge plant and mineral filtration techniques implemented are at the forefront of modern technology; plant filtration being the first of its kind in France and mineral filtration the first in the entire world.
Danone’s local water brand in Mexico, Bonafont, has tested out an original method for recycling wastewater.
The initiative was the result of an innovative partnership with Cemex, a local cement manufacturer, and sees a factory’s wastewater being reused to create cement. This has allowed Cemex to avoid taking water from the natural environment for its business and thus prevents wasting water resources that are so precious to local inhabitants. Encouraged by the success of this experiment, Bonafont and Cemex will roll out the method to 10 other Bonafont production sites. This creative industrial partnership has the potential to be replicated in other countries and even in other industries.
Building upon simple observations and driven by a desire to improve the status quo, Bonafont and Evian believe in preserving water resources and the environment as recommended by the UN experts. In its last report on Water, the WHO emphasised the importance of profitable investments in innovative infrastructure for the water industry.
According to Michel Jarraud, Chair of UN-Water and Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organisation, “Now is the time to act. We may not know yet what the post-2015 sustainable development agenda will look like. But we do know that water and sanitation must be clear priorities if we are to create a future that allows everyone to live healthy, prosperous and dignified lives”.
Photo © UNwater.org