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Organizational Water Footprint to Support Decision Making: a Case Study for a German Technological Solutions Provider for the Plumbing Industry

Forin, Silvia; Gossmann, Jutta; Weis, Christoph; Thylmann, Daniel; Bunsen, Jonas; Berger, Markus; Finkbeiner, Matthias

With water scarcity representing an increasing threat to humans, the environment and the economy, companies are interested in exploring how their operations and supply chains affect water resources globally. To allow for systematically compiling the water footprint at the company level, the organizational water footprint method based on ISO 14046 and ISO/TS 14072 was developed. This paper presents the first complete organizational water scarcity footprint case study carried out for Neoperl GmbH, a German company that offers innovative solutions regarding drinking water for the plumbing industry. The cradle-to-gate assessment for one year includes, besides facility-based production activities, purchased materials, electricity and fuels, and supporting activities, such as company vehicles and infrastructure. Neoperl’s total freshwater consumption amounts to approximately 110,000 m3, 96% thereof being attributable to the supply chain, with freshwater consumption through purchased metals playing the predominant role. Metals (mainly stainless steel and brass) are major hotspots, also when considering the water scarcity-related local impacts resulting from freshwater consumption, which mainly affect China and Chile. These results can be used to improve the company’s supply chain water use in cooperation with internal and external stakeholders by means of, e.g., sustainable purchase strategies or eco-design options to substitute water intensive materials.
Published in: Water, 10.3390/w12030847, MDPI