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Keeping Water Clean and Accessible

We are limiting our impact on water – globally and locally

Water is an important part of our environmental impact. Today, water security is one of the most serious and fastest-growing environmental challenges facing our world. Demand for water is increasing and analysis suggests that by 2030 the world will face a 40% gap between what we need and what is available.

Water issues are therefore a global challenge, but because we operate in water-scarce countries, it is important for us to consider the implications on a local level too. Looking specifically at our business, there are two main challenges we need to address: water contamination and water scarcity.

To understand these challenges better, we conducted a water impact study of the lifecycle of a representative selection of our key products in 2013.

The results of this study have helped us define the focus areas for our water strategy and strengthen our existing commitments. For example, we learned just how much of our water footprint comes from customers using our products - and how much higher the impact of this is in water-scarce countries like India. Because of this, we are looking at how we can engage our customers around more sustainable water use.

We know that the water impact from our manufacturing sites is a limited part of the life cycle impact, however, for local communities this impact may be important. Therefore we have looked at the exact locations of our manufacturing sites and we conducted a first analysis of the risks and impacts of the different locations. New targets for reducing water usage at our sites have now been set for 2020.

Another important focus area raised by the study is the biodegradability of our ingredients. Many beauty products end up in the water system – in particular, rinse off products like shower gel and shampoo. We have already committed to using only biodegradable cleansing ingredients in our personal care products and the findings of our study are helping us prioritise how to strengthen this commitment further, for example by phasing out specific ingredients.