BASF is the first chemical company to achieve gold-level certification according to the European Water Stewardship (EWS) standard for its production site in Tarragona, Spain. In order to attain this certificate, auditors of third party certification body TÜV Nord Integra assessed the entire water management performance of BASF’s production site, from extraction of water at its source to its reintroduction in downstream water bodies.
The European standard was developed by governments, businesses and NGOs under the leadership of the independent organization European Water Partnership (EWP) and became effective at the end of 2011.
The application of the EWS standard aims to lower the quantity of water used by companies and farms while simultaneously safeguarding the integrity of local ecosystems within the vicinity of the site. The assessment includes more than 50 indicators, addressing the four principles of water stewardship: sustainable water abstraction, ensuring good water status, protection of high conservation areas and equitable water governance. Amongst others, the assessment requires a water recycling strategy and a cohesive crisis management strategy to be in place.
BASF uses water as a coolant, solvent and cleaning agent, as well as directly in chemical production. The company has implemented the standard in order to promote its global water goals. By 2020, BASF wants to reduce the withdrawal of drinking water from supply sources for production by half compared with 2010. The emissions to water of organic substances and nitrogen are to be reduced by 80 percent, the emissions of heavy metals by 60 percent, compared with 2002.
BASF aims to improve its sustainable water management even further. In regions considered to be “water-stressed,” more than 60 percent of the naturally available water sources are exploited by humans. In total, 20 percent of all BASF sites, includingTarragona, are located in water-stressed areas. Last year, BASF abstracted around 7 percent of its worldwide water supply from these areas. “By the year 2020, we want to introduce a water management following the EWS standard at all sites where water is scarce,” says Dr Ulrich von Deessen, head of BASF’s Competence Center Environment, Health and Safety.
BASF is the world’s leading chemical company. Its portfolio ranges from chemicals, plastics, performance products and crop protection products to oil and gas. BASF had sales of €72.1 billion in 2012 and more than 110,000 employees.