Business in the Community calls on food and drink businesses to take action on water quality

At an event in central London today, attended by HRH Prince of Wales, Business in the Community has called on food and drink businesses to take steps to improve water quality and use as outlined in a new report.

The report calls on food and drink businesses, as well as retailers and caterers to work with farmers to provide support, and to start considering how water is used in the agricultural supply chain.

Water quality is an urgent national concern, with only 17% of water bodies currently meeting ‘good’ standards. The food and drink sectors have significant opportunities to make a positive difference on water quality, through their direct operations and wider agricultural supply chains, including farms. 

Businesses are already undertaking catchment partnerships and working to support farmers, and BITC is calling for more to be done, particularly with the issue of diffuse pollution from livestock and pesticides, which are factors in water pollution.

The report is part of a Defra funded project, and is also supported by partners such as the National Farmers Union, Food and Drink Federation and British Retail Consortium.

Rory Stewart MP, Environment Minister, said:

“Britain produces some of the best food and drink in the world, all of which depends on making the best use of our water.

“This report shows some of the exciting work that is already being done within the industry to manage water supply. From local fruit and vegetable producers who are naturally cleansing and recycling water to large corporations working with their global supply chains in Kenya and South Africa to improve regional water conditions.

“This is really exciting work and I would like to see more innovation and progress right across the water sector.”

Gudrun Cartwright, Environment Director, Business in the Community said:

“Businesses increasingly recognise that action needs to be taken to improve water quality, but while tools and resources are available, it can be difficult for food and drink manufacturers to know where to start. By understanding their relationship with water, businesses can collaborate better to improve quality and use.”

Dame Fiona Kendrick, Chairman and CEO, Nestlé UK & Ireland, said:

“We recognise that to optimise our impact on water stewardship, we must both take and promote a catchment level approach considering where we source our materials, our factory locations and where our consumers and local communities live. Working together with our employees, partner organisations and society we can help educate and engage, to identify new and innovative opportunities to address these ongoing challenges.”

Download the report Smart Water, a prosperous future for the food and drink supply chain.

Catch up with the event 'Smart growth in a slow world' here.

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