We feel it is our responsibility to optimize water use not only in water-stressed regions of the world but in all of our facilities through conservation and reuse.
Our water management approach is based on a global mapping process that enables us to establish relative water risks in our portfolio and rank our sites based on water usage, scarcity risk and other factors. We update the ranking each year to reflect water usage changes and sites that are acquired or sold.
Our 2017 water goal was to implement management plans at facilities with the highest water-scarcity risk by 2020. Three of our plants completed their plans in 2017.
We ensure water consumption is a focus at all plants—not just those considered high-risk—by including the metric in each plant’s environmental scorecard. This increases visibility into our water use at the local, regional and global level and also encourages our employees to remain engaged and committed to conserving this valuable resource.
Because much of the water we use is for equipment cleaning rather than products, we are improving our processes to require less cleaning while maintaining our high quality standards. We continue to evaluate additional opportunities to reuse wash water in our processes and products.
We are also moving toward manufacturing more water-based coatings compared to solvent-based ones. While this may cause our water consumption to increase, the net environmental benefit will be positive.
Our global operations used 18.6 million cubic meters of water in 2017, a 4 percent reduction compared to 2016 and a 35 percent increase since 2012. Our water usage intensity was 4.39 cubic meters per metric ton of production, which was 14 percent higher than 2016 but 9 percent lower than 2012.
We continued participating in a Water Environment and Reuse Foundation project to develop a framework that assists in the initiation and implementation of onsite industrial water reuse. We are also involved in the next phase of the project to develop practical tools to assist with the development and justification of industrial water reuse and reduction projects.