Water use

How we’re using water more efficiently

By 2030, we’re aiming to move towards zero waste as a company. An important factor in this is the use of water. We’re committed to taking proactive steps to reuse all our waste and reuse water at all our most water intensive sites. This will allow us to minimize our impact on the environment and reduce the use of essential resources.

Sustainable water supply is essential to our business. We rely on water for, among others, raw material production, product formulation, manufacturing, cooling, cleaning and transportation. A significant number of our water intensive sites already reuse water. By focusing more and introducing the necessary technology, we’ll not only reduce our overall water intake and wastewater discharge, we’ll also be able to recover and reuse materials present in the process water, resulting in improved material efficiency and less waste.


Our ambition

100% of our most water intensive sites reusing water by 2030

Our progress

- 58% water reuse

- 9% decrease in water use**

* Compared with the 2018 baseline
** Excluding cooling and percentage for 2020 only
Water use visual

The flow of water in our processes

Our approach

Our most water intensive locations are often water-based paint production sites, where water is used as both a raw material and to clean equipment.

Recycling and reusing process water

Our focus is mainly on recycling and reusing process water and driving a continuous reduction in freshwater intake and wastewater discharge. Currently, 19% of our water intake is from potable water, while the rest is mainly from surface water. Around 78% of the total water intake is used for cooling purposes. Wastewater can be processed at on-site treatment plants, or via third parties. Adapting formulations and using adequate water treatment enables us to reuse the water at our plants.

Assessment throughout our value chain

The importance of water management is recognized across our supply chain. We’ve taken a significant step towards water stewardship by endorsing the UN’s CEO Water Mandate. In 2020, we assessed the water-related risks at our manufacturing sites by using the Aqueduct tool and the WWF Water risk filter, supplied by the World Resource Institute. The results will help us develop water risk management plans accordingly.

We’ve also included a water risk analysis as part of our Supplier Sustainability Balanced Scorecard. In 2020, we analyzed around 200 of our suppliers’ locations using the Aqueduct tool, assessing both water scarcity and flood risks. We ask suppliers with high risk to share their mitigation plans and, at the same time, are working with them to look for solutions to these challenges.

Chinese sites achieve milestone

All our decorative paint plants in China have now switched completely to producing water-based products.