According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), water is “a fast-unfolding environmental crisis… and analysis suggests that the world will face a 40% global shortfall between forecast demand and available supply by 2030.” In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1.1 billion people (roughly 1 in 7) do not have access to safe drinking water. The issue has even trickled down to popular media, such as the online National Geographic Daily News, which has a “Water Crisis News” series.
Access to safe, clean water is an issue of health and security for people and nations. Water is also a critical natural resource for businesses, including companies like Avon. This makes it incumbent upon people, companies and governments to take whatever actions are possible to diminish the impact on water resources which are, as WEF notes, “a renewable yet not inexhaustible resource.”
As a global company, Avon has an impact on the planet, and we have taken a proactive management approach to water conservation, including reduction and efficiency, for almost two decades. In 1994 the global operations team, encompassing environmental management and engineering, launched a formal water-use and conservation program, especially in water-stressed regions, and established water consumption as a key environmental performance indicator for facilities worldwide. As reported in the Avon online Corporate Responsibility Report, from our baseline year of 2005 through 2011, water use was reduced by 146 million gallons in manufacturing facilities and 5 million gallons in distribution centers, which is a 27% reduction on an absolute basis. We also reduced water usage 34% per unit, which exceeded the 20% target. This has us well on our way to our long term goal of reducing water intensity 40% by 2020.
We are targeting zero water waste discharge in water-scarce regions with Avon operations, particularly India, China and Brazil. As examples, the Avon R&D Center in Shanghai, which opened in 2011, achieved LEED Platinum certification, and the Avon manufacturing facility in Guangdong was designated a National Environmental Protection Operative Technology Demonstration Project and received an Environmental Protection Award for its waste water expansion project. Other Avon facilities – from Zanesville, Ohio to Brazil to Poland and more – each day bring to life our commitment to reduce water usage. The Poland manufacturing location, for example, recently implemented a project to reduce overall water consumption by up to 25%.
Conserving water resources takes collaboration from governments, private entities and individuals. We cannot do it alone and must continue to look for ways to play our unique role in using water more efficiently – with less waste. Our future depends on it.