The water footprint is an indicator of the consumption of water needed to produce goods and services.
There are different colours or types of water footprint:
- Blue water footprint: water incorporated into the product from natural sources such as rivers, springs, etc.
- Green water footprint: water from rain, snow or snowmelt incorporated into the product. It focuses mainly on the flow of evapotranspiration from the soil in agricultural and forestry activities.
- Grey water footprint: The amount of water needed to assimilate the load of pollutants released in production processes to the quality required by local regulations.
Who is the water footprint calculation for?
All companies wishing to start monitoring and controlling their water consumption.
What does the water footprint study contain?
It considers the direct and indirect use of water (supply chain).
By calculating the water footprint, TMI assesses the water use of organisations, processes or products, providing quantitative and qualitative information that allows organisations to move towards a more sustainable use of freshwater.
Methodology for calculating the water footprint
The most widely used calculation methodology for water footprint analysis is that proposed by the Water Footprint Network. This manual establishes the calculation procedure for the blue, green and grey footprint for a product.
1) Define the purpose and scope:
To assess the water footprint of a product or organisation, it is first necessary to define the purpose and scope of the assessment, so that critical points are identified.
Determining the scope of the study will determine the level of detail required in the analysis.
2) Data collection:
The next stage consists of data collection.
It is possible to measure the water footprint of a product by determining the amount of water used, the type of water used, and when and where it is consumed. The quality of the wastewater must also be considered.
3) Calculation of the total water footprint:
Next, the calculation of the total product water footprint is carried out, differentiating its three colours: green, blue and grey.
4) Recommendations to reduce the water footprint:
Finally, recommendations are formulated to reduce the different components of the water footprint, as well as to develop a communication guide, which is of utmost importance to keep your stakeholders informed about your commitments and progress in terms of climate change and sustainability.
5) Validate the result by a certification body (optional):
Once the quantification of the water footprint has been done, the company can validate the result through an independent audit by a certifying entity.
Benefits for companies doing the calculation
As a methodology, the global Water Footprint standard comprises 4 phases of analysis: Definition of objectives and scope of the study, Water Footprint accounting, Sustainability Analysis and Formulation of Responses. Through these phases, the standard allows us to:
- Assess the pressure we exert on water resources.
- Understand the geographical and temporal distribution of water resources in the activities analysed.
- Assess the environmental sustainability, efficiency and equity of water use and pollution. In addition, a complementary analysis can be carried out by assessing environmental, social and economic impacts, which is known as sustainability analysis.
- Identify strategic actions to be taken at local, regional, national and global levels, at the individual level of an organisation or collective.
Contact us if you would like us to help you calculate the water footprint for your product, production process or company.