Resources available to business to quantify and reduce the water impacts of their water use

Like carbon, drivers for business to quantify and account for their impacts on water use and quality thoughout their supply chain have been increasing in recent years. However unlike carbon (where the impact can be reflected in a single indicator i.e. Global Warming Potential or GWP), the impact on water depends not only on how much is used, but a range of factors (e.g. local water scarcity, the season in which the water is consumed, quality and social impacts) that are difficult or impossible to characterise into a single indicator. Reflecting this complexity various methods, tools, guidance and initiatives have been developed to account for impacts on water; addressing different factors, situations or purposes.

Defra has committed, in the Natural Environment White Paper, to helping to improve guidance to businesses on reducing the impacts of their water use, both in their own operations and in their supply chains. This guidance must acknowledge the differing drivers, barriers and levels of expertise within UK business to reduce the impacts of their water use, and it must provide different guidance for business depending on their differing needs. Ultimately the guidance produced must find a balance between methodologies that businesses find practical and cost effective for their intended purpose, but also sufficiently scientifically robust to guide businesses towards those impacts that should be prioritised and to help in their reduction.

There are many organisations that provide guidance for business in this area. Through this project Defra seeks to work with those organisations that provide free, online advice, and to help improve that advice through the sharing of the findings of this research.


BIO Intelligence Service and Waterwise


21 September 2012



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