PepsiCo's First Water Report Sets the Bar for Stewardship

PepsiCo's First Water Report Sets the Bar for Stewardship

Image CC licensed by Flickr user aussiegall

PepsiCo became one of the first companies to publicly recognize the human right to water last year.

Since then the company has since taken steps to embed the commitment into various facets of its business, such as new construction and training guidelines.

The company has also set several water-related goals designed to vastly improve its water efficiency and protect resources in the communities in which it operates. PepsiCo offered a detailed glimpse of its efforts today with the launch of its inaugural water report, which also coincides with Stockholm International Water Institute's World Water Week taking place through Saturday.

"As a global food and beverage company, we have an inherent responsibility to be good stewards of this increasingly limited resource, and we are proud of the progress made so far on our journey to minimize our water footprint while expanding access to clean water around the globe," PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi said in a statement.

The report, "Water Stewardship: Good for Business. Good for Society," (PDF) spotlights PepsiCo's intention to improve its water intensity 20 percent by 2015, relative to its 2006 baseline. To date, the company has improved its water efficency, when measured by water use per unit of production, by 15 percent.

A few of its achievements include:

• PepsiCo saved 12 billion liters of water in 2009 through efficiency improvements.

• The company's Frito-Lay facility in Casa Grande, Ariz., recycles and reuses 80 percent of the process water used in its production, the result of its water filtration and purification system.

• PepsiCo's India manufacturing team has reduced water use by more than 45 percent since 2005, for a savings of more than 3 billion liters of water.

The company is also aiming for what it calls a "positive water balance" in its operations in water-stressed areas, or returning more water to the communities in which it operates than what its facilities consume. It began working with The Nature Conservancy this year to test ways to achieve a positive water balance in various geographies.

The company formally recognized water to be as a human right in 2009 and has committed to providing access to safe water to three million people in developing countries by 2015. It estimates that by the end of 2011, it will have provided clean water access to one million people and spent more than $15 million on various projects.

It is working with a slew of NGOs on projects that further this goal, such as installing irrigation systems, building rainwater harvesting cisterns, establishing water health centers, and recharging aquifers.

The company has been active in water footprinting, along with other NGOs, companies and academics.

"One of the crucial conclusions that has emerged as a result of our engagement in water footprinting is that -- unlike a carbon footprint -- a single, aggregate number for a water footprint is of little material value," the company wrote in the report. "We believe -- and fully support the Water Footprint Network's dialog -- that what is truly important is the impact of our water use, which is why we are strongly advocating to evolve the discussion from 'water footprint as a number' to the 'components of a water footprint that have the most impact,' with clean distinction of where, how and when the water is sourced and used."

Image CC licensed by Flickr user aussiegall.