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Corporate Water Footprint Accounting and Impact Assessment: The Case of the Water Footprint of a Sugar-Containing Carbonated Beverage

Abstract

All water use in the world is ultimately linked to final consumption by consumers. It is therefore interesting to know the specific water requirements of various consumer goods, particularly the water-intensive ones. This information is relevant not only for consumers, but also for food processors, retailers, and traders. The objective of this paper is to carry out a pilot study on water footprint accounting and impact assessment for a hypothetical sugar-containing carbonated beverage in a 0.5 l PET-bottle produced in a hypothetical factory that takes its sugar alternatively from sugar beet, sugar cane and high fructose maize syrup and from different countries. The composition of the beverage and the characteristics of the factory are hypothetical but realistic. The data assumed have been inspired by a real case. This paper does not only look at the water footprint of the ingredients of the beverage, but also at the water footprint of the bottle, other packaging materials and construction materials, paper and energy used in the factory. Although most companies focus on their own operational performance, this paper shows that it is important to consider freshwater usage along the supply chain. The water footprint of the beverage studied has a water footprint of 150 to 300 l of water per 0.5 l bottle, of which 99.7–99.8% refers to the supply chain. The study also shows that agricultural ingredients that constitute only a small fraction in weight of the final product have the biggest share at the total water footprint of a product.

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Correspondence to A. Ertug Ercin.

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Ercin, A.E., Aldaya, M.M. & Hoekstra, A.Y. Corporate Water Footprint Accounting and Impact Assessment: The Case of the Water Footprint of a Sugar-Containing Carbonated Beverage. Water Resour Manage 25, 721–741 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11269-010-9723-8

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11269-010-9723-8

Keywords

  • Water footprint
  • Corporate water strategy
  • Impact assessment
  • Sugar
  • Soft drink