As a global food company, water is critical to our business.
We work to understand water usage in every phase, from watershed to production, and identify opportunities to increase efficiency and conservation.
We continually look for ways to collaborate with others to benefit our growers, communities and the environment.
In 2014, we published a new water policy that describes our broad approach to addressing this issue. It also covers:
- Mitigation and adaptation – Continue efforts to increase water efficiency within our operations, supply chain and priority watersheds and collaborate with our suppliers, local communities, governments, NGOs and the industry to advance watershed stewardship.
- Annual reporting – Report progress against targets annually.
- Policy engagement – Advocate for effective, efficient public and industry association policy and action and encourage peers to engage on water issues.
Reducing water use at directly controlled operations
Our main uses of water at General Mills are as an ingredient, for cooling or heating and for cleaning and sanitizing equipment.
We track water consumption in each of our locations to identify areas of high usage and target opportunities for improvement. For example:
- We have adapted the Five-Step Energy Reduction Process to also apply to water. We are testing this process at our Murfreesboro, Tennessee, site and plan to fully launch it at that location in 2015 and other facilities in the coming years.
- In Linbro, South Africa, at our facility that makes dry mixes, pizza bases and other products, we installed hand-operated, high-pressure, low flow spray nozzles in sanitation areas during 2014. This will save nearly 9,000 cubic meters of water and US$20,000 annually.
- At our Green Giant location in Irapuato, Mexico, which is located in one of our key watersheds, we added additional equipment to our wastewater treatment system in 2014 to facilitate water reuse in cooling towers associated with broccoli and cauliflower freezing. As of October 2014, the location increased its water reuse rate for this system to about 8 percent of related water withdrawal, from less than 1 percent earlier in the year.
We share best practices across sites to maximize benefits companywide.
Managing upstream impact
Ninety-nine percent of our water footprint occurs upstream from our directly controlled operations.
Promoting more efficient water use across our value chain is a key priority.
We are implementing our global water stewardship strategy to improve the health of watersheds accessed by our business worldwide.
Our four-phase approach includes assessment, analysis and action planning, collaboration, and transformation to sustainable water use throughout our supply chain.
To encourage improvement across industries, General Mills is a Founding Partner of the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS), which seeks to define the global standard in this area.
The International Water Stewardship Standard 1.0, created through a four-year global multi-stakeholder effort, defines criteria for good water stewardship and helps companies assess and improve their performance.