Investigating the water footprint of Tetra Pak Carton Economy’s beverage portfolio

University essay from Lunds universitet/Avdelningen för Teknisk vattenresurslära

Abstract: Freshwater of good quality is important, even necessary, for human society as well as natural ecosystems to function. However, the uneven distribution of freshwater globally together with other problems such as over-population and pollution all contribute to water stress and water scarcity in many countries. These issues are getting worse and worse. A growing number of companies and organizations have started to recognize the importance of water to their business and have started programs to improve the sustainability of freshwater in their processes. Virtual Water (VW) is a method used to measure the impact of water trade between countries and businesses. Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) is one of the ways to assess the impact of product on the environment. The concept of a “water footprint” has been developed and defined for countries, businesses and products. More than just being a total figure for the volume of water used in a process, it specifies the type of water used (blue, green or grey water) as well as when and in which process the water is used. The “Tetra Pak value chain” is a term that describes the water usage from the raw material to the finished product, involving suppliers, Tetra Pak themselves as well as the customers. Both quantitative and qualitative research methods were used in this project to understand the water footprint in the Tetra Pak value chain. This report develops the explanation of “water footprint” and discusses the difference between gross green water, net green water and embedded water. The concepts of “water use” as opposed to “water consumption” are developed to assist the understanding of the main water processes at Tetra Pak. A water footprint model for the Tetra Pak cartons is presented. When determining the green water footprint within the Tetra Pak value chain the choice of calculation method is of utmost importance. The difference between the gross green water footprint and the embedded water footprint is observably large. This is one of the major findings described in this report. Gaps in Tetra Pak data collection and challenges connected to the water footprint throughout the production processes are discussed with the aim to assess and understand the impact on the environment.

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