P&G takes a lead in water-stressed cities

Land restoration along the Sacramento River in California.to improve water quality. Image: P&G.

In a global first, consumer goods company P&G has pledged to restore more water than is consumed by people using its products in the water-stressed regions of Los Angeles and Mexico City.

The announcement comes on the back of a major expansion of P&G's environmental sustainability efforts to make more water available in critically water-stressed areas around the world. The company is supporting water restoration projects in 18 water-stressed areas - to protect ecosystems, replenish groundwater, reduce the amount diverted from essential water-bodies, and improve water quality for communities and wildlife.

The goal on water use is the first-of-its-kind, and focusses not only on addressing the water consumed in its own operations, but from customers use of P&G products too.

P&G produces a vast range of everyday goods that require water use, including laundry detergents, shampoos, shaving equipment and toothpaste. The company says that the metropolitan areas of Los Angeles and Mexico City account for over half the total water consumed by people using P&G products across all 18 priority areas.

"For years we have been focused on reducing water use in our operations and innovating to help consumers use less water in the home, but there is much more we can all do.”

Jon Moeller, P&G

Both cities face multiple challenges on water, including population growth and increasing unpredictability of the climate. Mexico City is over-abstracting the aquifer to the point that the city is sinking, while Los Angeles is losing water to leakage and evaporation during water transport.

P&G has worked closely with the World Resources Institute (WRI) water programme to ensure the new water targets align with the best science and emerging target-setting practices.

“Water is one of the world’s most critical natural resources, and something too many often take for granted. For years we have been focused on reducing water use in our operations and innovating to help consumers use less water in the home, but there is much more we can all do,” said Jon Moeller, P&G president and chief executive.

“Together with our partners, we are expanding our efforts that will improve, manage, and protect water resources in stressed areas that will help sustain people and nature for generations to come.”

The new goals and actions build on the company’s existing Ambition 2030 sustainability efforts across climate, nature, waste, and water.

Nearly one-third of people globally are experiencing water scarcity and that number is expected to double by 2025. P&G needs large quantities of water to make its products and consumers need water to use them.

An additional goal aims to restore more water than is consumed at P&G manufacturing sites in the 18 water-stressed areas.

Colin Strong, corporate water stewardship lead at the WRI Aqueduct Program said, “P&G’s water target applies a rigorous analytical approach and complements the other aspects within their comprehensive water stewardship strategy. It adds a first-of-its-kind ambition to address water consumption and offers a roadmap for others to adopt targets in the face of our shared water problems.”