Act to preserve and restore water resources, today and for future generations
Water is essential to all life on the planet and to our modern economy. Fresh water makes up only 2.5% of the planet’s water, and it is unevenly distributed. As human populations are growing, water scarcity has become a serious societal and environmental problem and climate change is further accelerating this issue. Under our ‘One Planet. One Health’ signature, we embrace our responsibilities as a company and leverage our reach as a force for good - to relieve water stressed environments by helping to preserve and restore ecosystems, wetlands and natural water cycles; by leveraging the principles of circular economy within and beyond our factories; and to continue our work to bring safe drinking water, wherever possible, to as many people as possible.
We have developed a water strategy based on three pillars:
1. PRESERVE WATER RESOURCES AND THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT
Promoting a regenerative agriculture that respects natural ecosystems and water cycles.
As agriculture is responsible for 89% of our overall water footprint, the health and sustainability of our agricultural supply chain is a major focus of our water stewardship and of our regenerative agriculture programs. We have developed collaborative approaches to ensure the adequate and reliable management of water for agricultural production. We work closely with farmers to co-build water-smart solutions and sustainable farming models, suitable for the local context and always in cooperation with relevant public and academic partners.
Regenerative Strawberry Farming in Mexico and Morocco
In Mexico and Morocco, two of the most important production areas for strawberries, Danone is promoting regenerative agriculture practices with farmers. They receive training, technical support and incentives to improve water management at farm level, reducing water quantity and securing the right quality through a lower use of pesticides. These practices boost the farmers’ competitiveness, improve their working conditions, and strengthen their relationship with their ecosystems, resulting in more sustainable farming activity.
In Mexico, we have helped farmers improve water quality by reducing fertilizer run-off in ground and surface water, with a 15% increase in the biofertilizer ratio and 15% reduction in pesticide use. Livelihoods have improved as a result, with an average 30% net income increase for the farmers.
Leading Research on Almonds in Spain
Danone’s Alpro, leading plant-based brand in Europe, has developed a pilot project called “We only have one planet – Lead the change”, with WWF and other partners such as the International Union for Conservation of Nature. In Spain, the project engages growers covering 10% of the entire brand’s almond sourcing. Rather than setting simple water efficiency targets, this project aims to establish production targets based on planetary boundary definitions1. Extensive studies have been conducted to help Alpro and its suppliers better understand the watersheds where almonds are sourced, and create concrete action plans for other farms in the supply chain.
Managing watersheds where we operate, through nature-based solutions, to preserve water resources.
Working with an in-house team of hydrogeologists with over 20 years of cumulative experience, we have developed water stewardship plans for sustainable water management and proper governance at the watershed level, in collaboration with local communities, water users, providers and authorities. Focusing on landscape approaches and nature-based solutions – such as agroforestry, wetlands preservation and agricultural optimization – we achieve multiple benefits, including biodiversity enhancement, soil health improvement, carbon sequestration, sustainable water resources management and better livelihoods.
Landscape and collective actions in Indonesia
The Danone Ecosystem and the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) have joined forces in Indonesia to protect the threatened Rejoso watershed. Various nature-based solutions have been employed to improve water conditions, mitigate flood risks and minimize erosion. Based on several scientific studies conducted with universities, the focus now lies on climate-smart rice production practices downstream, and drill management for more efficient water use. Depending on project scale, water consumption has been proven to be effectively decreased by 10 to 40%. This method additionally reduces carbon emissions and chemical pesticides, and has improved livelihoods of farmers, through a net income increase of 20%.
Evian Watershed Actions in France
Since 1992, evian has been involved in guaranteeing the long-term quality of its watersheds, in partnership with APIEME (the Association for the Protection of the Impluvium of Evian Mineral Water). In 1997, it was designated as a Site of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention. With Terragr’eau, APIEME has constructed a biodigester that turns livestock effluents and organic waste from the farmers into biogas for 1200 Evian city inhabitants, and organic compost for fertilizing local land. 63% of the agricultural surface in the watershed now uses bio fertilizers, equivalent to 35 square km. A dedicated cooperative of farmers manages the compost spreading operation, which reduces fertilizer costs and supports sustainable agricultural development.
Natural Reserve Protection in Argentina
Fundación Villavicencio was created to collectively manage the Villavicencio Natural Reserve in Argentina through eco-responsible citizenship. Its pillars for action are: education for sustainability, conservation of historical archaeological and biological heritage, protection of water resources and ecosystems, and support of scientific research. The watershed preservation plan covers 72.000 ha, is designated as a Site of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention, and has safeguarded 250 fauna and 327 flora species. In 2019, nearly 5000 children participated in its educational program, and the site welcomed a total of 240,000 visitors.
2. DRIVE WATER CIRCULARITY IN AND AROUND PRODUCTION SITES
Working to further reduce water consumption, achieve higher cleanliness of discharged water and increase circularity in our operations and beyond.
We have been working on increasing water use efficiency and enhancing waste water quality in our operations for over 20 years. To do so, we perform specific risk assessments using a new water risk filter tool developed by the World Wildlife Fund to prioritize the factories being at higher risk from water scarcity. We develop mitigation programs and environmental roadmaps to reduce water in the operational process and enhance the cleanliness of our discharged water through a high-level internal standard called Danone Clean Water Standard. We are intensifying our efforts in sites in high-risk areas and continue with all our sites.
Zero Impact Operations in Belgium
At Danone’s Belgian Rotselaar dairy factory, the Waterless Project is part of the Zero Impact Operations program. Through 2-step filtration technologies, waste water is treated and directly reclaimed as clean water, then re-used in factory processes. This helps close the factory’s water loop, allowing it to reintegrate and reuse 75% of its water in operations. As a result, overall water consumption and pressure on groundwater supplies is reduced.
Zero Water Factory in India
Considering the potential risk of future water scarcity, Danone’s Specialized Nutrition production sites in Lalru, India, is implementing a 4R methodology – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Reclaim. Over the last three years, water usage related to factory operations has been lowered by 52% through reducing and reusing water. The site has also implemented rainwater harvesting techniques, with the objective of giving back to nature (ground water) twice the amount of water used by the factory. The plant is now installing an innovative water recycling solution for its fresh milk process.
Second Life of Water in Mexico
In Mexico, Danone’s Bonafont brand is giving water a second life, by donating cleaned water to third-party users. The team verified the chemical and physical conditions of the discharged water, analyzed external water demand, and determined efficient water treatment and transportation processes. The initiative has strengthened alliances among users of the aquifer, and reduced pressure on water resources. In 2019, nearly 300,000 m3 of water were provided to a nearby business operation.
3. PROVIDE SAFE DRINKING WATER TO VULNERABLE PEOPLE AND COMMUNITIES
Supporting innovation to deliver safe drinking water to those who need it most.
Since 2007, Danone has been active in many parts of the world to bring safe water to vulnerable communities through investments from Danone Communities. The social business fund supports social entrepreneurs with innovative businesses aiming to provide water access or healthy nutrition to low-income populations. Danone Communities provides the necessary resources, including capital, technological expertise and strong networks, and has so far supported eight social businesses for water access reaching over five million people daily.
Water Kiosks in India
In 2005, Naandi Foundation opened its first kiosk in rural India. Several years later, Naandi Community Water Services was created as a joint venture with Danone.communities to collectively build sustainable water solutions. Today, local communities provide land while Naandi Community Water Services provides expertise to set up and successfully run a water kiosk. The kiosks are managed by a local operator appointed by the community and are equipped to treat bacterial and chemical contamination which is often present in the groundwater. Additionally, yearly activities are conducted in villages and schools to raise awareness on best practices in WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene). Naandi Community Water Services launched its 647th water kiosk in 2019. The kiosks now supply safe water to over 700.000 people daily.
Discover more project of Danone Communities HERE.
AQUA’s partnership in Indonesia
In Indonesia, Danone’s AQUA water brand is expanding water access through a partnership with water.org. For each 1-liter AQUA bottle purchased, AQUA provides 10-liters clean water access to communities in need. This is achieved through a Water Credit Scheme and cooperation with local financial institutions. As funding is one of the main barriers to water access in Indonesia, the partnership works to enable rural communities to obtain more affordable loans. With the necessary assistance, these can be used to buy pumps, build bore wells or expand house water connections. So far, clean water is being distributed to over 54,000 Indonesians at home. Similar models are being developed and deployed by other Danone water brands, such as Villa del Sur in Argentina.
Within our Water Policy, we are now committing to reach many ambitious targets around the 3 pillars of our water strategy. Some commitments include:
Leading the regenerative agricultural transformation with a 25% reduction in water consumption for our direct farmers in high-risk areas and securing and improving water quality by using fewer chemical fertilizers. Implementing further water stewardship projects and sharing our expertise through a new Danone Water Platform with our employees, scientists, water users and many more. Reducing our water usage in factories in high water-stress areas by 50%. Creating a new fund to accelerate water access through investing in even more social businesses.
1Stockholm Resilience Centre “The planetary boundaries concept presents a set of nine planetary boundaries within which humanity can continue to develop and thrive for generations to come”.