Water is the key raw material used in our production and we aim to limit the use of water where we can, through optimising our processes using technology. We use a closed loop system in our rectification installation at the Lublin plant (Poland): a total of 495m3 of water circulates the two loops per hour with no waste generated. This approach significantly reduces water demand inside the installation. Closed circulation systems use small quantities of water to make up for any losses caused by evaporation and through the condensation recovery from steam, we save up to 5,200m3 of water per year. This water can be used to top up depleted resources in the closed system.
Our production sites source water from their own underground intakes and external suppliers and we use no or limited water from the municipal supply systems to avoid generating extra demand at the cost of local residents, especially in periods when there may be supply shortages. Water management in the plants is controlled by monitoring the water consumption and quality, and maintenance of the installations and equipment to ensure top-level performance. We comply with the legal requirements in each location and have the required water abstraction permits and contracts with suppliers. Each plant has specific target water consumption levels per one litre of finished product.
The key environmental risks defined in the ISO 140001 environmental management system address water management and specifically the risk of:
- contamination of main water intakes,
- poor quality of water used for production,
- low water level in own intakes.
We have never had an issue with contamination of water intakes as a result of external risks such as sabotage, however, we approach these threats very seriously, even though the probability is low, if it did occur, it would stop the entire production in a plant. Our intakes have been classified as special supervision areas with assigned risk lists and measures intended to alleviate them. In addition to monitoring the water quality for both physical, chemical, and biological agents, legal protection zones have been set up for our water intakes, and any works and activities nearby have been limited. In the wells, the water table is measured periodically, and the well efficiency is tested. The above measures are intended to prevent excessive and unnecessary use of water resources. Access to our wells is secured to protect our water resources against intentional third-party activity.
Poor water quality is a risk to production, however, we have never had an issue with water quality. We carry out quality control at the exit of the water softening and osmosis station and the water hardness warning system will stop the installation operation automatically if pre-set hardness levels are exceeded. We carry out regular maintenance of the installation and complete regular quality control to ensure a consistent quality of water is achieved in our finished products.
Another risk is the potential lowering of water levels in our own intakes which would result in reduced or suspended production. Climate change may increase the likelihood of this risk in the future. We do not locate new production plants in areas where water is scarce, however, some of our current operating facilities are old and built when there were no water restrictions in place. We analyse the impact of production on water resources, especially in periods of increased water scarcity. In 2019 we carried out comprehensive tests on the technical condition and efficiency of our water intakes in Poland and these were compared to the 1986 measures and this showed there had been no depletion in the levels, which is due to prudent water management and continuing initiatives during the 40-year period to protect the water intakes. This has enabled us to operate sustainably, to keep the resources unchanged and in a good condition. The Lublin plant sources water from chalk deposits which are of a high quality and used for the finished product. These deposits are much deeper than those used by the local community and our production activities do not impact on the level of water resources used by our neighbours. As the draw-off comes from old geological deposits we make a continuous effort to protect it and this year we introduced the continuous monitoring of the water status in our own intakes which has allowed us to better understand any fluctuations in the water deposit and be able to respond quickly to any irregularities related to climate change, such as drought and warm, snowless winters. Snow cover is the main source for the recovery of surface water resources, however, in the long run, it can also affect water quantities in deep underground reservoirs.
In 2020, risk analysis and assessments have been carried out for our own intakes and surveys were completed on the companies that supply our water to all our production sites using the AQUEDUCT tool. In all individual locations the risk to the availability of water resources was reviewed (including water stress, depletion of water resources, interim variability, seasonal variability, groundwater level drops, river flood risk, coastal flood risk and drought risk). We undertake to reduce our water intake for auxiliary processes, e.g. by considering the use of rainwater for watering green areas and making use of wastewater.
We continually monitor the quality of our water and waste discharged from the premises of the production facilities using solutions, such as buffering, to limit the discharge of Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) and Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) wastewater by implementing process controls that mix high load waste with that of lower load. Our plants do not have their own sewage treatment facilities and use external suppliers (municipal sewage treatment plants) and we monitor their operating parameters periodically. The sewage treatment plants that collect our waste meet all legal requirements and discharge treated sewage into the environment while observing all required parameters.
We have processes in place to minimise the risk of leaks that may contaminate the natural environment, including the water resources used in our facilities. A risk assessment of possible industrial accidents has been carried out and procedures have been developed to prevent them and to respond to them if they occurred. During the year we installed containment bunds at tank unloading and loading areas to eliminate the risk of leakage in this area. We also set up specialist emergency response groups who received training in prevention and fast response to failure and emergency situations which was supported by specialist fire-fighting units.
- Total water withdrawn
We report the amount of water withdrawn (water withdrawn equals water consumed) in thousands of cubic meters for the plants and warehouse (excluding commercial offices).
2020: 423.1 k m3 (2019: 1.6%, 2015 base year: 10.4%)
- Total water consumed/ withdrawn, percentage of each in regions with High or Extremely High Baseline Water Stress
We report the % of water withdrawn (water withdrawn equals water consumed) in locations with high or extremely high baseline water stress, including production plants but excluding office locations.
In the table below we have set out the levels of water stress across the Group factories.
||Level of Water Stress
Water collected according to sources (2020 year)
- Groundwater (borehole/well)
Freshwater (≤1,000 mg/L Total Dissolved Solids) – 148.3 thousand m3
Total third-party water withdrawal by withdrawal source
- Surface water – 45.3 thousand m3
- Groundwater – 229.5 Thousand m3
We provide the consumption of water per litre of litre packaged (excluding commercial offices).
In 2020 the quality of wastewater discharged from our industrial plants and offices, expressed by the BOD and COD indicators, was 100% compliant with the local requirements and regulations. We have not reported any incidents related to the inferior quality of wastewater discharged into the environment by the owners of sewage treatment plants that we cooperate with.