ECCR report finds mixed response on water sustainability

 

Many food and drinks processing companies have much to do before they can claim to be operating sustainably in terms of water consumption, according to a new report published by the Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility (ECCR)[1].

The report analyses the water use policies and performance of fifteen leading British and Irish food and drinks businesses - including their agricultural supply chains and overseas operations.

Three companies - Diageo, SAB Miller and Unilever - show the greatest evidence of addressing the need to monitor, report on and reduce their water footprint. Others, on the other hand, have been slow to respond to the challenge.

The key findings and issues include -

  • Water shortages resulting from rising demand, pollution and climate change are a key environmental challenge, a global justice issue - and, in some parts of the world, a cause of conflict.
  • Water-thirsty industries have a responsibility to manage their water use accountably and sustainably.
  • The food and drinks sector is among the heaviest water users, especially when agricultural supply chains - often involving irrigation - are taken into account.
  • Major food and drinks processing companies have much to do before they can claim to be operating sustainably in terms of water consumption.
  • Only three companies - Diageo, SAB Miller and Unilever show signs of adequately addressing the need to monitor, report on and reduce their water footprint.
  • Recommended sector-wide improvements include -
    - identifying water stress and local impacts of water use;
    - taking more responsibility for water consumption in the supply chain;
    - consulting with local communities;
    - enhancing accountability through reporting and disclosure - and
    - making environmental performance a factor in senior executive pay.

Companies in the survey included - Associated British Foods, Britvic, C&C; Group, Cadbury Schweppes, Dairy Crest, Diageo, Glanbia, IAWS, Kerry Group, Northern Foods, Premier Foods, SAB Miller, Scottish & Newcastle, Tate & Lyle, Unilever.

All were FTSE 350 or ISEQ (Dublin) listed when research began in mid-2007.

To download an Executive summary of the report - Click Here

For more information on the Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility (ECCR) - Click Here

[1] The Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility is a group of religious shareholders which advises churches on up to 7 billion of investments.