Addressing the need to conserve water, improve water quality and promote access to clean water
Water is both an environmental and a humanitarian issue. There is sufficient fresh water on the planet to ensure everyone has access, yet water scarcity affects more than 40 percent of the global population and is projected to rise. Access to clean water is critical to ensuring strong communities, and it is also critical to our food system.
Of the fresh water people use every year, about 70 percent goes to produce the food we eat. At Cargill, we’re taking steps to manage our water resources efficiently by conserving water, improving water quality and ensuring access to clean water in the communities where we operate.
We are working across our supply chains and within our own operations to conserve and improve water quality:
- Minimize use in agriculture: We’re acting to minimize water use, particularly in areas of stress and scarcity, and improve water quality in areas impacted by agriculture. By partnering with farmers and organizations such as Field to Market, we are working to optimize the use of fertilizer and other inputs, reduce runoff and protect watersheds.
- Assess risk: We are conducting local assessments and mapping of our plants and supply chains to determine our long-term risk and take appropriate action.
- Improve efficiency of operations: We’re working to improve freshwater efficiency in our facilities around the world. We improved efficiency by 12 percent between 2005 and 2015. In 2015, we set a new target to improve by another 5 percent by 2020. We achieved a 1.5 percent improvement in fiscal year 2016 and are working toward continuous improvement.
Improve water quality through sustainable agriculture
We are improving water quality in areas impacted by agriculture. We work with farmers to optimize use of fertilizer and other inputs to maximize yields, reduce runoff and protect watersheds. A valuable tool for addressing water conservation in agriculture is the Fieldprint® Calculator, developed by Field to Market® with input from Cargill and some of our customers. We promote use of the tool by farmers to help them measure and improve water quality and water use as well as soil conservation, land use, greenhouse gas emissions, energy use and soil carbon.
Promote access to clean water
We promote access to clean water in communities where we live and work. In areas where we have operations in remote or sensitive locations, we install waste water treatment technology to protect local water sources. For example, in Mexico, we partner with Isla Urbana to install rainwater harvesting systems to stabilize the water supply for hundreds of people.