Our water impact per consumer use has remained broadly unchanged since 2010*
Halve the water associated with the consumer use of our products by 2020.*
Our water impact per consumer use has remained broadly unchanged since 2010.*
What matters most
For the Water commitment we have three targets that are most material to us: Reduce water use in the laundry process, Easy rinse products and products that use less water and Reduce water use in skin cleansing and hair washing. (M) indicates our most material targets.
- achieved: 0
- on-plan: 10
- off-plan: 1
%of target achieved: 0
Water shortages are already affecting many parts of the world. By 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity and two-thirds in water-stressed conditions.
While around 70% of available fresh water is used for agriculture, when it comes to personal and domestic use, the UN estimates that each person needs about 50-100 liters per day for drinking, cooking and washing. Yet in the poorest countries people live on as little as 10 liters a day. The collection of water, typically undertaken by women, is also an issue. According to the UN, sub-saharan Africa alone loses 40 billion hours per year collecting water.
Our approach is to work across our value chain from raw material sourcing to the design of our products. Since 2009 we have worked with the Water Footprint Network to measure our agricultural water impact. We have learnt that our priority water-intensive crops are tomatoes and sugar cane and that overall our footprint is lower than we had previously estimated. We have been working with our tomato suppliers for many years and we will continue to introduce drip irrigation to our suppliers for this and other crops.
Addressing our water use
We have made particular progress in reducing water abstracted by our manufacturing sites. Since 2008 we have saved the equivalent of around 1.5 liters of water for every person on the planet.
The water used by our consumers in washing and cleaning is more than seven times greater than the water embedded in the agricultural raw materials we buy. In emerging countries, washing clothes can take up one-third of a household’s water supply.
We are making some progress in designing and rolling out products which require less water. Our Comfort One Rinse fabric conditioner is now available in more waterscarce countries. Lifebuoy has launched a foam handwash which cuts water use and we have rolled out dry shampoo to ten countries.
We have a long way to go to meet our goal. As we go forward, we will be better prepared for sourcing essential raw materials from farmers with limited water supplies and we will open up new markets by providing products which meet the needs of people with restricted access to water. But in the end transformational change will only come about when water is priced and there is a financial incentive to encourage new behaviors.