Water Resources

Indicator Definition

The volume of water used by a sector for each process, and any impacts on water quality by a sector for each process.

Why is this indicator important to the packer and processor sector?

Water resources stewardship is crucial to the long-term viability of the packer and processor sectors. Industry-wide, water resource stewardship should be defined at the local level and used to inform corporate programs and best practices. Each facility needs the flexibility to respond to unique local challenges and determine the most effective water resource stewardship approach for that location. Furthermore, water plays a critical role in food safety, and its use must be carefully balanced with that end in mind.

Metrics

Level 1 – Is a water resource management plan implemented at the facility?

Level 2 – How many wastewater permit non-compliances has the facility had in the previous calendar year?  What is the water use in gallons/head/day (packers) or gallons/pound of beef processed (processors)?

Level 3 – Does the company track discharge water quality over time? Does the company have set goals for continued improvement? Does the company make water performance efforts public? Does the company participate in partnerships, initiatives or programs to further advance water resource management?

Why did we choose these metrics?

Water plays an important role in beef packing and processing plants being critical to sanitation and food safety. Even so, it is a controllable element, and in most cases, facilities have (or could have) the ability to measure its use. Further, in the U.S., there are often regulatory requirements that can be leveraged for tracking and goal setting at the facility and company level. Through identification of current state, setting goals for continued improvement, being transparent regarding progress, and working with the industry, the packer and processor segment can better utilize water resources.

Desired Outcomes

Packers and processors that implement strategies addressing the water resources metrics can have positive effects related to water resources sustainability outcomes. The positive effects include:

  • Improvement of water optimization
  • Improvement of water planning and stewardship
  • Gaining a greater understanding of associated risk related to water quantity and quality
  • Implementation of locally-relevant strategies to optimize water resource stewardship
  • Improvement of collaboration along the value chain related to water stewardship

Why do these outcomes matter?

These outcomes will drive continuous improvement in water utilization within the packer and processor facilities and companies.

Success Criteria

1.   Increase in number of facilities that have a water resource management plan implemented
2.   Reduction in number of wastewater permit non-compliances
3.   Reduction in water use in gallons/head/day (packers) or gallons/pound of beef processed (processors)
4.   Increase in number of companies with goals for continued improvement
5.   Increase in number of companies that make water performance efforts public
6.   Increase in number of companies that participate in partnerships, initiatives or programs to further advance water resource management

How do these metrics continuously improve beef sustainability?

Through identification of current state, setting goals for continued improvement, being transparent regarding progress and working with the industry, the packer and processor segment can better utilize water resources.

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