Water Stewardship in Beverage Industry

BIER Releases New Framework to Support Water Stewardship in the Beverage Industry

January 26th, 2017

Ensuring the sustainability and quality of the world’s water supply is of paramount importance—and the beverage industry has a vital role to play in water stewardship efforts.

As part of the industry’s continued pursuit of advancing such efforts, the Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER)—a consortium of global leaders from across the beverage industry—developed a refreshed framework definition that beverage companies can use to drive world class water stewardship in their industry.

“This marks the tenth year of BIER’s work in leading the beverage industry to accelerate to impact on relevant dimensions of sustainability,” Nick Martin, Associate Director of BIER and Senior Consultant with Antea Group, said. “Best practices in water stewardship have been core to our mission since inception, and we are pleased to mark this anniversary with a renewed commitment to and framework for sound water stewardship.”

The new framework outlines six leadership principles and the associated qualities that define water stewardship excellence:

1. Direct Operations

Communicating a committed vision for water stewardship and integrating water efficiency measures into routine decision-making and process design allows for continuous improvement and operational excellence within direct operations. BIER encourages members to share industry best practices among all levels of an organization – from operational staff to executives – that encourage innovation and drive progress toward better water management.

2. Supply Chain

Understanding supplier sustainability and water performance throughout the value chain helps define the scope of environmental impacts within an industry. Forward thinking is required to collaborate and improve water-related business risks and opportunities outside organizational boundaries. One way to engage suppliers in water stewardship initiatives is through water risk assessments, in which key suppliers are encouraged to share relevant information on their water use and management plans.

3. Watershed Context

Excellence in water stewardship cannot be achieved without consideration of local watershed conditions. Understanding watershed dynamics and identifying threats through water risk or source vulnerability assessments offers water users an informed perspective on water business risks and opportunities. Improving water management methods based on qualitative and quantitative evaluations of water risk helps inform business planning and ensures business continuity in the event of water supply changes.

4. Community and Collective Action

The concepts of collaboration and collective action are at the heart of innovation and sustainable solution development. The BIER framework offers an approach to leadership achievement within the industry by encouraging businesses to work with public authorities on supporting development of adequate water infrastructure.

5. Advocacy

Conditions enabling organizations to achieve leadership in water stewardship are in part impacted by regulations, legislation, and collaboration. The framework suggests contributing inputs and recommendations to the development of government regulation and in the creation of market mechanisms in pursuit of more sustainable watersheds, ecosystem services, and access to water and sanitation for all as one way to achieve leadership.

6. Transparency & Disclosure

Transparency and disclosure reporting allows businesses to assess their risks and identify opportunities for mitigation and improvement. Sustainability reporting also provides investors and stakeholders with a clear understanding of a business’ sustainability approach, goals, and performance based on social and environmental issues.

Looking to the Future

Water is essential to the beverage industry, both for delivering a quality product and for implementing efficient, environmentally-sound production processes. But understanding and acting on the risks and opportunities associated with water use is only part of the water stewardship equation. The other part is recognizing the shared nature of water challenges, and that sustainable management of water is the responsibility of business, stakeholders, and communities worldwide.

BIER’s water stewardship framework reflects the ever-advancing goals of the beverage industry to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. As the value of water evolves, industry practices must also evolve to address stakeholder expectations, grow leadership within the beverage sector, and advance the long-term health of ecosystems around the world.

Download the framework for free.

For more food and beverage industry news and EHS and sustainability tips, check out the Antea Group blog.


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