As both the world population and the demand for clean water are increasing, water availability is decreasing in some locations around the world. For its part, Colgate strives to use this precious natural resource more efficiently and has established water efficiency goals to ensure we do so.
The efforts to reduce water usage are beneficial for Colgate and for the communities in which we operate. Such reduction protects water resources; lowers the demand for a costly water supply; saves energy used to pump; heats and treats water and produces cost savings.
Colgate’s water use per ton of production decreased by over 40% from 2002 to 2009. Click to enlarge
Our 2002 to 2010 target is to reduce water use by 25% and attain a 40% reduction of water use per unit of production worldwide. On an absolute basis, our water use in 2009 decreased to almost 30% below the 2002 baseline level, which equates to a per-ton reduction of over 40%. We continue to strive to reduce our water use on an absolute basis even as our business grows.
Some of the ways Colgate has achieved this are by consolidating manufacturing processes, product portfolio changes and creating more efficient cleaning technologies that help reduce water usage.
Recycling water is one of the most effective ways we can make a positive impact on our environment. A team at Colgate's Morristown, New Jersey facility found a way to reduce both waste and costs by developing a plan to recover rejected water by redirecting and putting the water through a water purifying system in the plant. The resulting high-purity water can then be used in production processes, as well as for other purposes in the plant. The project has resulted in recovery of more than 26 gallons of water per minute, reducing water waste by almost 95% and delivering savings of $250,000 per year. The team received a 2009 Chairman's You Can Make a Difference Award for this sustainability new innovation.
In Via Anchieta, Brazil, Colgate's toothpaste manufacturing facility determined there was an opportunity to reduce water consumption by using treated wastewater in the cooling tower's system. This process also reduces wastewater discharged into the public system, a benefit to the environment and a cost savings. After approval by the country's environmental agency and subsequent installation, the system has produced zero discharge of wastewater to the public system.
Recently, the Company has started a focused initiative to help identify opportunities and best practices for reducing water usage, similar to our successful energy reduction initiative.
Identifying Our Water Footprint
We have begun to develop our "Water Footprint" model, which will be useful in identifying and communicating the diverse impacts water has on our businesses, customers, consumers and communities. This initiative will go beyond typical reduction efforts in manufacturing and will involve examining various water issues related to our suppliers, our products, consumer water usage and water reduction's relationship to energy savings. It will also include community issues, especially in water-stressed regions of the world.