Posted tagged ‘corporate water footprinting’

The first water offset product

October 1, 2009

Bonneville Environmental Foundation has launched what is the first water offset product. Rob Harmon from BEF will be speaking about this innovation at our Corporate Water Footprinting event in San Francisco in December – press release below

BEF Water Restoration CertificatesTM Help Americans Take Responsibility For Their Water Use

PORTLAND, Ore. /Businesswire/ – In an effort to bring life back into U.S. rivers and streams that are critically dewatered, the nonprofit Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) announced the creation of the first and only national voluntary water restoration marketplace via BEF Water Restoration CertificatesTM (WRCs). 
“Americans use twice as much water as Europeans and almost forty times more than people in developing countries,” said Margie Gardner, CEO of the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. “At least 36 U.S. states anticipate water shortages by 2013. Clearly we need to think more deeply about how we use water. BEF invented Water Restoration Certificates so businesses and households could learn more and take direct action to help solve our water scarcity issues.”
 

Through WRCs, BEF offers businesses and individuals an opportunity to take responsibility for their water consumption by restoring to nature an amount of water equal to what they use. Each WRC represents one thousand gallons of water restored to critically dewatered streams.

“Water rights are managed in the Western U.S. with a ‘use it or lose it’ system that forces water use even when it’s wasteful. When businesses and consumers buy BEF WRCs they create a revenue source that provides economic incentive to leave unneeded water in rivers and streams,” explained Rob Harmon, Chief Innovation Officer at BEF, who led the development of the new program. 

Charter customers that have invested in BEF WRCs to balance their water use include the Bullitt Foundation, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and WhiteWave Foods Company.

“I’m excited to see a product that so elegantly addresses one of Earth’s most pressing problems – our looming fresh water crisis,” said Denis Hayes, President and CEO of the Bullitt Foundation and National Executive Director of the first Earth Day in 1970. “The BEF Water Restoration Certificate is a simple and immediate way for businesses and consumers to help bring water and life back to streams that are currently dry.”

BEF has launched www.BEFwater.org, which features a host of resources, including tips on how to reduce water use, calculate water consumption and purchase WRCs to rebalance water use. Businesses can download white papers and learn more at www.BEFwater.org/business.

“At WhiteWave, we take great pride in working with a nonprofit like BEF that has vision and leadership in both the renewable energy and emerging water market categories and shares our commitment to making it easier for businesses and consumers to make environmentally responsible choices,” says Ellen W. Feeney, VP Responsible Livelihood, WhiteWave Foods Company. “The BEF water calculator and Water Restoration Certificates are simple, cost-effective tools that we can all use to to make more sustainable choices about our water use and create real environmental benefits.”

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) has certified the standards and criteria for all BEF WRC projects to ensure that water is returned at a time and place that will produce real environmental benefits, providing increased water flow to critically dewatered ecosystems so they can better support fish and wildlife. Also, BEF has partnered with water trust organizations at each location who work with local irrigators and monitor flow restoration.  To ensure that water returned to the environment is never counted twice, WRCs are individually numbered and tracked by Markit Environmental Registry, a leading global provider of registries for ecosystems markets.

Joanna Silver, Vice President, Markit Environmental Registry said “The new WRC is a first of its kind. We are very excited to be at the forefront of this new environmental market with an innovative organization like BEF and to play a part in creating a robust and credible product. Only with quality infrastructure can environmental markets be scalable and easily implemented regionally, nationally and globally.”

The BEF WRC market is having initial success:

  • For years, Prickly Pear Creek in Montana did not flow throughout the irrigation season, running dry in the late summer season. This summer BEF and the Montana Water Trust expect to restore the creek to continuous year-round flow, supporting approximately two river miles of additional habitat for fish and wildlife.
  • In Oregon, where BEF works with the Deschutes River Conservancy, water flow in the Middle Deschutes River is almost four times what it has been historically, fostering a healthier ecosystem for people, plants and wildlife and prompting local fly fishing guides familiar with the area to report improved fish populations.
  • Evan’s Creek, which is also in Oregon and where BEF works with The Freshwater Trust, is enjoying a 50 percent improvement in summer stream flow, prompting a return of wildlife to the area with beavers actively pooling up the small stream and steelhead trout and Coho salmon using the stream as rearing habitat. 
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The first food product with a water footprint label

September 15, 2009

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Raisio CEO Matti Rihko  is speaking at our Corporate Water Footprinting conference in December. In this 60-second interview he outlines the details of what is thought to be the first water-footprint label on a food product.

What prompted you undertake the water footprint and label product?

As a pioneer in plant-based, ecological food, and as one of Europe’s most innovative grain companies, Raisio Group is in an extremely good position to answer the new challenges facing the food industry.

During the past years we in Raisio have thought about the motives that are becoming increasingly important to consumers and how to take these factors into consideration when meeting consumer demand. Such key factors include ecology and ethics. Raisio is strongly investing in developing products that comply with consumer needs. Climate change and increasing consumers’ environmental awareness made us realise that it is the time to offer information about our products’ greenhouse gas emissions that the company already had. 

 We have received very positive feedback on adding the CO2 label on consumer products. This feedback encouraged us to expand the labelling and further convinced us that we are on the right track. The H2O label was the natural follow-up step to the CO2 label as we had the information and skills needed to calculate the product’s water footprint.

What did you hope to achieve my determining and publicising the footprint?

We believe that carbon footprint labels will become standard on consumer products. The label will form an integral part of product data in a package to complement the price and nutrition information.

 When launching the CO2 label Raisio wanted to see how consumers react and to get feedback. It was also a kind of risk to add CO2 label to an icon brand that Elovena is in Finland because the single figure looks high without any comparison.

The CO2 label that Raisio introduced has been very well received. Raisio’s actions come as an answer to the quickly strengthening changes in living habits. We firmly believe that people are moving from words to action in order to curb climate change, and the CO2 and H2O labels give them important information in this respect.

Where is the greatest uncertainty in the usage quantity you derived?

Most of the water consumption of Elovena oat flakes, that are H2O labelled, consists of the water that oats use during the growth period and originates from rain water, as a part of the natural water cycle. Since the oat grown in Finland is not irrigated, it does not compete for clean, drinkable water. We wanted to include green water to be able to calculate the total water consumption.

We have asked for feedback to be able to discuss about the water footprint in order to further develop the calculation and labelling. We believe that the water footprint, as a concept, will gain global significance, but it will take years before the related consumer product labelling becomes more common. If consumers find that the H2O label gives them additional information they need for consumption choices, Raisio will enlarge the labelling to other products as well.

What has been the response to the labels from consumers and the industry?

We have received very positive feedback on the labels from experts, consumer organisations and other such sources. The labels have aroused a lot of interest in Finland, and they have also been widely noticed abroad. Footprint labelling is a very young concept in the food industry but awakened consumers awareness about climate change will make footprint label as a standard.

The food industry is more and more aware about environmental impacts caused by food production. Changing consumer demand is encouraging food processors to develop products that are also environmentally friendly.