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World Water Day: Kimberly-Clark, PepsiCo, Target Dive Into New Projects, Targets

Kayaking the River Verde near Camp Verde, Arizona. PepsiCo is supporting The Nature Conservancy’s work along this important southwestern watershed. | Image credit: The Nature Conservancy/Tana Kappel

From social media campaigns to water conservation projects and efficiency improvements across their supply chains, top brands announced all sorts of initiatives today in celebration of World Water Day — a new water management tool from Kimberly-Clark and Deltares, projects from PepsiCo and The Nature Conservancy, goals from Gap Inc. and Target, and campaign from Absolut Elyx and Water For People, just to name a few.

Kimberly-Clark Identifying Water Risk, Exploring Stewardship Strategies with New Dashboard Tool

Kimberly-Clark Corporation has announced it is using an interactive web-based tool developed in partnership with research firm Deltares to monitor local freshwater supplies and consumption trends and generate actionable insights to mitigate local water risks. The tool, called WaterLoupe, tracks data on social, economic and climate factors impacting water availability within river basins and displays the information on a highly visual dashboard.

Deltares developed the dashboard based on a study of the Aburrá and Cauca Valley catchment areas in Colombia, where Kimberly-Clark operates manufacturing facilities. Kimberly-Clark plans to use the WaterLoupe tool in the high-risk river basins where it operates manufacturing facilities by 2022. In the meantime, the companies are sharing the dashboard with their NGO partners and other manufacturers to get feedback and make improvements. To integrate stakeholder input, the WaterLoupe dashboard was designed as an open-source tool that can be expanded to include information as requested.

“We recognize that the communities surrounding mills experiencing water stress have important social needs as well, so engagement at the local community level will help stakeholders leverage this tool and see the factors driving water risk and explore sustainable stewardship strategies,” said Lisa Morden, global head of sustainability at Kimberly-Clark. “Ultimately, we hope to use this system to test the impact of different water management approaches on local water supply and consumption.”

The introduction of WaterLoupe is the latest step in Kimberly-Clark's global water risk management and Sustainability 2022 programs.

New PepsiCo, Nature Conservancy Project to Reduce Pressure on a High-Risk Watershed While Supporting U.S. Farmers

PepsiCo and The Nature Conservancy marked the next stage of their multi-year collaboration in the U.S. today with the announcement of further work along the Salt and Verde watershed. The Verde and Salt River valleys are part of the wider Colorado River system, which is the primary source of water across the Southwest. PepsiCo and The Nature Conservancy say their shared goal is to maximize the health and vibrancy of the system through scalable solutions for integrated water management.

In 2017, PepsiCo’s support enabled 110 million gallons of water to be replenished in the Verde River valley through projects managed under the Salt and Verde Alliance, a collective of communities, corporations, farmers, and other organizations with an interest in the watershed. As part of this, The Nature Conservancy helped Hauser and Hauser Farms, the largest multi-generational farm in the area, switch from flood irrigation to a more efficient drip irrigation technique, keeping more water in the Verde River. The new 2018 project will support the same farm in switching from cultivation of alfalfa to barley, a crop that utilizes water primarily when the river's level is naturally at its highest, and limits water withdrawal during dry months. To make it a more financially viable alternative crop and help encourage other farmers to make similar changes, The Nature Conservancy and partners will also be opening Arizona’s first malt house.

“These projects bring together farmers and other key stakeholders to address local watershed challenges in a collaborative way,” said Roberta Barbieri, VP of Global Sustainability at PepsiCo. “Our approach is underscored by a belief that, by considering environmental, social and economic factors together, sustainable, systemic change can be brought about. The Nature Conservancy's work in the Verde and Salt River valleys, with PepsiCo's support, is a model for how high-risk watersheds around the world can be sustainably managed.”

Alongside the extension of their work in Arizona, the partnership also announced projects in Utah and Texas. The Nature Conservancy plans to acquire land and water rights on the Price River, UT to protect local water flows and ecosystems while benefitting drinking water sources, agricultural communities and endangered fish. This long-term project is intended to deliver 200 million gallons of water benefits each year. PepsiCo is also supporting The Nature Conservancy’s management of a 5,000 acre preserve at Cibolo Bluffs, TX to safeguard an aquifer that provides water for almost two million Texans and habitat for the largest population of bats in the world 20 million Mexican free-tailed bats.

These projects tie into PepsiCo’s ‘Performance with Purpose’ 2025 goals, one of which is to return all the water it consumes in manufacturing operations located in high water-risk areas to the same watershed from which it is taken.

Gap, Target Set New Water Conservation Goals

Gap Inc. announced an ambitious new manufacturing goal to conserve a total of 10 billion liters of water by the end of 2020 — the equivalent volume of the daily drinking water need for 5 billion people. To achieve this, the company promises improvements along its clothing supply chain and to its products, as well as continued collaborative efforts with NGOs and others.

"We believe that access to clean and safe drinking water is a fundamental human right, so we strive to ensure that the process of making our clothes is safe for people and communities. It’s not only the right thing for people and the planet, it’s also crucial for our business growth,” said David Hayer, SVP of Global Sustainability and President of Gap Foundation.

Since 2014, the apparel maker has saved 2.4 billion liters of water through various projects, product innovations and efficiency improvements at fabric mills and laundries. At the product level, Gap has saved more than 100 million liters of water through its smart denim wash program, Washwell, since its launch in 2016. The company claims that the process reduces water use by 20 percent or more. Improvements at the mill level have been a priority since 2013, when the company launched a Mill Sustainability Program to improve social and environmental practices at fabric mills. Improving wastewater quality from its denim laundries has been managed through a Water Quality Program since 2004; a program that has grown from ensuring proper wastewater treatment to actively monitoring and improving wastewater quality from the facilities. Gap further encourages its suppliers to conduct environmental footprint assessments  which include water use — using the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s (SAC) Higg Index.

Gap is a founding member of the SAC’s Apparel Impact Institute and plans to continue to work with other brands and NGOs through such programs. To name a few, Gap is a signatory of the United Nations Global Compact CEO Water Mandate, is a member of the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) Programme, and is working with the Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) Clean by Design program, which is focused on helping mills improve their operational efficiencies to reduce water, energy and chemical use.


Meanwhile, Target has also joined the ZDHC Programme, and a related new target was part of its World Water Day announcement. The retailer is building on its existing water management practices with a new “freshwater stewardship approach” created in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Target used WWF’s water risk assessment to review its water use reduction efforts across its supply chain. From there, it was able to develop an approach that acknowledges water as part of a bigger global system, and aims to address how the retailer can improve water quality, optimize water efficiency, and increase access to clean water. Target will initially focus its efforts in four main areas: raw materials, manufacturing, direct operations, and beyond the fenceline.

“Freshwater resources are more precious and vulnerable than people realize. Challenges, such as climate change, population growth, changing consumption patterns, are putting our freshwater systems increasingly at risk, and the need for action to address these issues is abundantly clear,” said Sheila Bonini, SVP of private sector engagement at WWF. “Target’s approach provides a holistic vision to drive solutions that will bring us closer to a sustainable and water-secure future.”

Its raw material focus is on cotton: The retailer has renewed its goal to source 100 percent sustainable cotton for owned brand and exclusive national brand products by 2022. Manufacturing targets include to: Improve water efficiency in textile dyeing and finishing factories located in priority watersheds by 15 percent by 2022; Use water-saving design principles in 100 percent of owned brand apparel by 2025; and Have all owned brand apparel textile facilities in compliance with the ZDHC Progressive level wastewater standard by 2025. Its stores, distribution centers and headquarters locations are aiming for a 15 percent absolute water reduction by 2025 (with a 2010 baseline). Target further plans to investigate its position on water quality within its U.S. building operations over the next two years. Finally, the retailer reiterated its intention to collaborate across sectors, make philanthropic contributions, etc., starting with a $1 million investment in Water.org to help remove barriers to the access of affordable financing for water and sanitation in the communities where Target’s goods are produced.

Water for People, Absolut Elyx Invite Us to Raise a Glass to Help Solve the Global Water Crisis

The Raise It Forward campaign will contribute safe water to communities where Water For People works based on social media engagement from today, World Water Day, through Earth Day (April 22). Every time someone posts a picture of raising a glass, adds the hashtag #RaiseItForward and mentions @WaterForPeople and @AbsolutElyx, Absolut Elyx will contribute one week’s worth of safe water (140 liters) through the global nonprofit.

Anyone around the world is invited to participate, and the toast can be done with anything — not just a glass of water or Absolut Elyx. A similar campaign in 2017 led to over 672,000 liters of water donated based on over 4,800 posts across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

The campaign is part of a five-year partnership between the organizations, which intends to bring access to safe water to more than 100,000 people worldwide and has done so for 30,000 people so far. In addition to #RaiseItForward, Absolut Elyx contributes to Water For People through events, purchases of Elyx Bottles and Elyx Boutique copper products. For every purchase made from the Elyx Boutique, a week’s worth of safe water is donated to those who need it.

“#RaiseItForward is a great campaign to bring awareness to the global water crisis, while making a real difference for people who live without safe water around the world,” said Water For People CEO Eleanor Allen. “We are grateful for the long-term partnership with Absolut Elyx. This collaboration has made a real, long-term difference for thousands of people around the world, and continues to make a greater impact year over year.”


Hannah Furlong is an Editorial Assistant for Sustainable Brands, based in Canada. She is researching the circular economy as a Master's student in Sustainability Management at the University of Waterloo and holds a Bachelor's in Environment and Business Co-op. Hannah… [Read more about Hannah Furlong]


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