By SCTWeek, Friday, February 21, 2014
Retailers make water conservation a priority
High-profile merchants known for aggressive water conservation have begun leaning on their suppliers to follow suit. Walmart, which uses water controllers and drip-irrigation systems on its store landscape, started pressing its poultry suppliers in 2010 to scale back their water consumption. Swedish fashion stalwart H&M last year teamed up with the World Wildlife Foundation to implement a water strategy for its suppliers and workers worldwide. H&M designers and buyers are urging their 750-plus suppliers to go easy on the water, particularly those tapping into China’s receding Yangtze River and Bangladesh’s Brahmaputra River. “This is about stewardship,” said Helena Helmersson, H&M’s head of sustainability. “We want to become a leader to take responsibility in the whole value chain.”
Similarly, British supermarket chain Waitrose and its department-store sister company John Lewis are calling on their suppliers to reduce water use. Owner John Lewis Partnership says it seeks to ease company water consumption by some 20 percent this year, relative to 2011. U.K. supermarket chain Sainsbury’s unveiled its first “water-neutral” store last October, in the Weymouth Gateway center, Dorset, England; the store meets most of its water needs through rainwater harvesting and a water-efficient infrastructure. A second water-neutral Sainsbury’s store opened in Leicester last November. Sainsbury’s says it has cut consumption by about 50 percent relative to 2005–2006. U.S. grocery chain Fresh & Easy says it is reducing water use by roughly 30 percent through a water-treatment system for its cooling towers and condensers. And Starbucks reports that a water filtration system it created in 2011 has cut water waste at its shops in half.