Clean water is essential for human health. People depend on water for drinking, sanitation, hygiene and the food supply. Yet one in nine people lack access to clean water, and approximately 3.5 million people die each year because of inadequate water supply and the related issues of poor sanitation and hygiene.1 More than a billion people currently live in water-scarce regions, and as many as 3.5 billion could experience water scarcity by 2025.2 And as populations continue to increase, climate change is expected to shift precipitation patterns and speed glacial melt, altering water supplies and intensifying floods and drought.
Our Statement on the Human Right to Water recognizes that everyone is entitled to sufficient, safe, accessible, and affordable water, and acknowledges that our actions can impact water quality and quantity. Water scarcity is a concern in many areas of the world where we operate, including India, China, Mexico, Thailand and parts of Europe and the United States.
For many years, we approached this challenge by working to reduce our water usage universally across our business, with significant success. However, water risks vary around the world and are better addressed with locally relevant action plans. With this in mind, we shifted our focus with a new approach—adding a dedicated Health for Humanity 2020 Goal focused on assessing water risk at each of our locations.
Our Environment, Health, Safety & Sustainability (EHS&S) Standard for water and wastewater management (Standard) requires that facilities comply with either the local treatment standards or the Standard, whichever is more stringent. The Standard also sets forth clear responsibilities for addressing water conservation, drinking water supply management and storm water management. For more information about our management approach, see EHS&S Governance.
Johnson & Johnson has been a participant in the CDP Water program since its inception in 2010. Additional information on our water use and risks can be found in our CDPWater submission at www.cdp.net.
In 2016, water risk assessments were completed at all our 120 manufacturing and R&D sites.
The assessment involved the completion of a site questionnaire, the use of multiple water stress models, and a review of media coverage for water risks (regionally and site-specific). Since not all sites presented the same level of water risk potential, the assessment tool was developed with two levels of review; while some sites were assessed using a streamlined model, most of the sites assessed received a very detailed review of their potential risks. These assessments considered 11 components, which were weighted, including but not limited to wastewater discharges, water stress, watershed health, risk for flood or drought, community needs, regulatory requirements, and our type and level of water use.4 Sites are classified into three groups: critical, major, and minor. Those in the critical and major categories are high priority. A high-priority classification means that there are factors affecting the water source, which may impact its reliability or pose other water-related operational risks.
As part of the water risk assessments, Johnson & Johnson has determined the percentage of sites located in water-stressed or water-scarce areas.
Prior to 2016, we conducted water risk assessments using the methodology developed by the World Resources Institute to predict water-stressed or water-scarce areas in 2025. The 2016 water risk assessment included an in-house-designed risk category for water stress, which is a combination of several assessment criteria, including a number of water stress models (EFETAC, AqueductWRF, EarthStat) and site-specific data. Additionally, as part of our water risk assessment, we considered, as one factor, whether the water sources we use could be significantly affected by withdrawal of water in the next five years. GRI 303-2; 306-5 This assessment considered the size of the water source, whether it is designated as a protected area, its biodiversity value, and its importance to local communities, among other factors.
Over the past decade, Johnson & Johnson has set goals to reduce water usage. We have made substantial progress in reducing our water use, realizing an absolute reduction of 9.6 percent from 2010 to 2016, including a slight increase in 2016. At the end of 2016, our water use volume4 was 10.8 million cubic meters. Water use decreased in the Consumer and Pharmaceutical business segments, but increased in the Medical Devices segment. Regionally, water use remained steady. Water use increases are mainly driven by higher production volumes. Reductions can be attributed to site-specific water conservation measures or to energy efficiency projects that have water savings co-benefits. Our water use by region as well as water use and water intensity by business segment, is shown in the tables below.
Our water sources have not significantly changed in the past year, and are shown in the chart. GRI 303-1
Recycling water is one way to reduce demand on limited water resources. In 2016, we reused 0.880 million cubic meters of recycled water, meeting approximately 8.1 percent of our total water demand, an 18.0 percent increase since 2015. This increase is explained by significant increase in the use of recycled water at sites in India, Colombia, Puerto Rico and the United States. GRI 303-3
In 2016, our water discharge volume was approximately 8.1 million cubic meters. Discharge volumes by discharge locations are shown in the chart. GRI 306-1
Discharges are monitored, as required, to demonstrate compliance with the applicable water quality standards. In 2016, our wastewater discharge contained a total of 28 metric tons of biological oxygen demand (BOD-5) and 88 metric tons of chemical oxygen demand. These indicators essentially remain unchanged since 2015.
3 Methodologies used included a Water Supply Stress Index (EFETAC), a Baseline Water Stress Index and Groundwater Stress Index (Aqueduct), a Water Depletion Index (WRF Water Gap), an Aridity Index (WRF), and Earth Statistics (Water Gap 3).
4 Baseline and performance have been adjusted to reflect acquisitions and divestitures. Additionally, our Vistakon Limerick site implemented a project to reduce energy consumption and GHG emissions by activating a once-through non-contact cooling water loop in 2010. Given the location of the operation, and type of water use, we did not require this site to report this water in their water use volumes or water discharge volumes. Their adjustment represents the volume of water they discharge to surface. Our Zuchwil Synthes Switzerland site now has the same technology in place, and therefore a similar adjustment has been made for this site. As this was only identified for the 2016 data, adjustments have been made for prior year published data (2013—2014—2015).