White House Lauds Ceres' Sustainable Water Initiatives at World Water Day Summit

Five major companies join Ceres’ Connect the Drops Campaign with collective commitments to save one billion gallons of water by 2020
Mar 22, 2016 8:15 AM ET
Press Release

March 22, 2016 /3BL Media/ - Ceres’ Connect the Drops campaign in California and its climate-resilient water bonds initiative were both recognized at a White House ceremony today commemorating World Water Day.

Connect the Drops, an initiative to elevate business voices on the urgency for resilient water solutions in drought-plagued California, added five new members to the campaign today — Anheuser-Busch InBev, Annie’s, EILEEN FISHER, Kellogg Company, and Xylem. The new members have collectively committed to saving nearly one billion gallons of water through 2020 through current efforts and new goals.

In joining Connect the Drops, which now has two-dozen members, companies agree to 1) make and implement business commitments to support California’s action plan for water conservation, and 2) engage with policymakers, employees, customers and their peers on improving water management and enhancing water efficiency in the state.

“A growing number of companies with large water footprints are stepping up their water stewardship efforts on a planet with increasingly strained freshwater resources,” said Brooke Barton, senior water program director at Ceres, who attended the White House event. “ Whether by increasing their own operational efficiencies, engaging with their supply chains, consumers, and policymakers, or through collaborative conservation efforts at the watershed level, their efforts are making a difference.”

Existing Connect the Drop signatories also made the following new commitments today:

General Mills pledged to champion development of water stewardship plans in most material, high-risk watersheds in its global supply chains by 2025. As part of this commitment, the company will lead corporate collaboration efforts, foster development of foundational tools, and advocate science-based policy in these watersheds, commensurate with the gap in stewardship in each individual watershed.

Genentech announced that it is piloting a project to treat manufacturing process wastewater and distribute it via a purple pipe network for reuse in buildings throughout its South San Francisco campus. The project is expected to save 60 million gallons of water per year by 2020.

Levis Strauss & Co. announced it is making its innovative Water<Less™ finishing techniques publicly available to spur water conservation across the apparel industry. The techniques reduce water use in garment finishing by up to 96 percent and have helped the company save more than 1 billion liters of water since 2011. LS&Co. also announced today the company’s goal to train 100 percent of its corporate employees on water conservation through its ongoing partnership with Project WET, a non-profit that offers water education to help people understand and value water and ensure a sustainable future.

Water Stewardship Efforts of New Connect the Drop Members:

Anheuser-Busch InBev has reduced its water usage rate by 23 percent from 2009 through 2015, resulting in water savings of over 2.5 billion gallons. In addition to improving water efficiency and management across its supply chain, nearly forty of its breweries globally, including in Los Angeles, have programs to supply their treated effluent to local communities before it is returned to the watershed. This water is used for agricultural irrigation, watering public parks and soccer fields, street cleaning and other community needs.

“At AB InBev, we recognize the critical role that companies can play in addressing some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges, such as water scarcity. But we cannot do it alone - which is why we partner with local authorities, communities, NGOs and other water users to champion innovative solutions to freshwater challenges,” said Ezgi Barcenas Global Director, Corporate Sustainability at AB InBev.

Annie’s water stewardship practices are integrated throughout its supply chain and begin with organic agriculture. Since 2008, Annie’s has purchased nearly 250 million pounds of organic ingredients and 85 percent of Annie’s sales are from organic products. Annie’s also works with key manufacturing suppliers to reduce their environmental impact, with water as a key focus area. Annie’s Berkeley headquarters are LEED Gold certified, which includes significant water conservation requirements.

“We know that water is crucial for daily human life, a healthy environment and our economy – and it is particularly important for food production. We must do our part, but we also believe that policymakers play a critical role in proactively addressing water reforms to ensure a healthy and prosperous future,” said Shauna Sadowski, Vice President of Sustainability & Industry Relations at Annie's Inc.

EILEEN FISHER has demonstrated its commitment to water stewardship through its support of organic agriculture, which requires less water. In 2015, 88 percent of EILEEN FISHER’s cotton was certified organic and this percentage will increase to 100 by 2020.

“For EILEEN FISHER, an apparel company reliant on natural fibers, it’s simple – no water, no clothing.” says Shona Quinn, Sustainability Leader at EILEEN FISHER.  “We all understand that change happens faster when the shared values of citizens, governments and business come together.  Thank you, Connect the Drops for leading this initiative and building momentum around progressive water policies for California.”

Kellogg Company is committed to lowering the water footprint and water impacts of its foods – from ingredients to finished products. By working at every step of the supply chain, it strives to improve the availability and quality of water where foods are grown and made. Kellogg is measuring continuous improvement on environmental metrics, including water use, across its 10 priority ingredients. Additionally, Kellogg will reduce its global water use (per metric tonne of food produced) 15 percent by 2020. Kellogg is proud of its progress on these commitments in California, where Kellogg has partnered with dozens of farmers on sustainable agriculture, and has achieved a 20% reduction in water use at its Eggo® facility in San Jose.

“People care about where their food comes from, the people who grow and make it, and that there’s enough for everyone,” said Diane Holdorf, Kellogg Company Chief Sustainability Officer. “Around the globe, fresh water resources are under pressure from climate change, population growth, industrial and agricultural uses, and aging or inefficient infrastructure. Impacts from water scarcity are being felt by the agricultural industry, and Kellogg is joining other companies in bringing attention through initiatives such as Connect the Drops to these important issues.”

Xylem is a leading global water technology provider, enabling customers to transport, treat, test and efficiently use water in public utility, residential and commercial building services, industrial and agricultural settings. The company does business in more than 150 countries and is focused on finding local solutions to the world’s most challenging water and wastewater problems.

Water Climate Bonds Initiative

Ceres was also recognized today for its efforts to help foster investment in resilient and sustainable water infrastructure through its partnership with the Climate Bonds Initiative, the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation, CDP, and the World Resources Institute in launching a Water Climate Bonds Standard. The Water Climate Bonds Standard was created to provide investors with verifiable, science-based criteria for evaluating bonds earmarked for financing sustainable water infrastructure projects. The Standard will also help corporate, municipal and other bond issuers expand their green bond offerings into water-related projects.

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission expects to be the first issuer to align a forthcoming bond sale with the standard in order to finance sustainable stormwater management and wastewater projects.

“As utilities across the nation invest in our aging water, power and sewer systems much of that work is to directly address the protection of our environment and the growing impacts of climate change.  San Francisco is proud to be prioritizing sustainable bond financing options to support our infrastructure work, and the water climate bond standard will help investors grow this market.” said Harlan Kelly, SFPUC General Manager.

Held in conjunction on World Water Day, the White House Water Summit aims to fortify commitments across the nation towards a sustainable and secure water future. For the full list of commitments, see https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2016/03/22/working-together-build-sustainable-water-future.


About Ceres
Ceres is a nonprofit organization mobilizing business leadership on climate change, water scarcity and other global sustainability challenges. Ceres directs the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), a network of more than 110 institutional investors with collective assets totaling more than $13 trillion. Ceres also directs BICEP, an advocacy coalition of 36 businesses committed to working with policy makers to pass meaningful energy and climate legislation. For more information, visit www.ceres.org or follow on Twitter @CeresNews.

Meg Wilcox
+1 (617) 319-6457