There’s No Excuse for Wastewater Going to Waste
- Sustainable Brands
Globally, 80% of wastewater is discharged into local environments with minimal or no treatment — water that could be recycled and reused. California-based startup Aquacycl's waste-to-energy solution protects water resources while helping companies reduce costs.
Water is arguably the most important factor in human development. However, only 0.5 percent of the water on Earth is available to use as freshwater. And that’s a problem, given that a quarter of the world’s population is already living in water-stressed countries — a situation that is steadily getting worse. In the race to solve the climate crisis and ensure sustainable development goals are reached, we ignore water management at our peril.
Of course, governments have a big responsibility to integrate sustainable water-management solutions. And there appears to be plenty of commitment to the cause: According to UNFCCC, water has been named as the top climate-adaptation priority in 79 percent of the Nationally Determined Contributions that countries have submitted in response to the Paris Agreement.
But, as ever, nations will need big water-using companies to play their role in finding innovative solutions to reduce, reuse and recycle water wherever possible. Industrial companies have been reducing their water use ratio for decades, and water-related disclosure is increasing. CDP reports that 3,370 companies reported on their water impacts in 2021, up from just 176 in 2010.
But as companies reduce their water use, the concentration of wastewater — the water that has already been used, having gone through a factory facility, a home, a sanitation system, or rain falling on a roof, for example — increases. So, smarter management and processing of wastewater presents a significant opportunity. Globally, an estimated 80 percent of all wastewater is discharged into the local environment with minimal or no treatment — water that could be recycled and reused.