Water Resources

Indicator Definition

The volume of water consumed and any impacts in water quality.

Why is this indicator important to the retail sector?

Of the water used for U.S. commercial and industrial purposes, 15 percent is consumed by the restaurants primarily for dish washing and restroom facilities. Utilizing water conservation practices can decrease operating costs over 10 percent and reduce water and energy use. The business case is clear: wasted water comes with a cost. Retail and food service organizations that strategically invest in water management and reduction solutions will reap the financial benefits.

While improved water management is the target for the retail and food service sector, it is important to recognize that net water reduction is not always the desired objective due to food handling and food safety priorities. For this reason, the metrics for this indicator are designed to highlight the importance of awareness, management, planning, continuous improvement and broader engagement with suppliers, industry, and relevant stakeholders.

Metrics

Level 1 – Has the company assessed the water risk of its operations and locations?

Level 2 – Does the company have a plan for water resource and risk management including both quantity and quality impacts? Has the company assessed the water risk of its direct beef suppliers? Does the company engage suppliers and encourage adoption of the U.S. Beef Industry Sustainability Framework water metrics in its beef value chain?

Level 3 – Is the company participating in a credible system for measuring and reporting for water stewardship? Has the company set water targets based on its assessments? Can the company demonstrate progress towards these targets? Does the company track performance on water stewardship in its beef supply chain?

Why did we choose this metric?

Wasted water comes with a cost; retail and food service organizations that strategically invest in water management and reduction solutions will reap the financial benefits while also improving water resources sustainability outcomes. Reduced water use and improved water quality are key impact areas that are critical to the continuous improvement of the beef value chain.

Desired Outcomes

Companies that develop and maintain plans that address the above water resources metrics can have positive impacts on water resources sustainability outcomes. The positive impacts include:

  • Improved water planning and stewardship at operations.
  • Development of better collaborations between retail and food service operations and their suppliers on water stewardship
  • Greater understanding of issues surrounding water resources
  • Broader engagement around common industry tools
  • Implementation of locally relevant water resource strategies

Why do these outcomes matter?

Water stewardship is a practice that is applicable across the beef supply chain. The retail sector contribution looks at locally relevant solutions that will impact water stewardship and has a responsibility to be good stewards of water conservation.

Success Criteria

Increased number of companies that assess water risk; implement plans for water resource and risk management including quantity and quality; engage suppliers and encourage adoption of the U.S. Beef Industry Sustainability Framework metrics in the supply chain; and measure and report water stewardship.

How does this metric continuously improve beef sustainability?

Reduced water use and improved water quality are key impact areas that are critical to the continuous improvement of the beef supply chain.

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