The key message for World Water Day this year is ‘valuing water’ and it acknowledges the different viewpoints people have on this critical issue around the world. We are all dependent on water as an absolute requirement for life, but the value is more acute and visible for some versus others where clean water is an accepted convenience.
World Water Day gives us the opportunity to step back, look at the global situation and recognize the radical inequities in access to clean water and sanitation. We’ve made progress, but there are still 2.2 billion people living without access to clean water. The social costs are significant in places like sub-Saharan Africa, where women and girls spend an estimated 40 billion hours a year collecting water for their families. Diseases caused by unsanitary conditions and unsafe water lead to an estimated loss of 400 million days of schooling for children around the world.
The social impacts of poor sanitation are compounded when clean water is not readily available. Morbidity and mortality from water-related diseases are harder to treat and can spread faster due to limited ability to clean and disinfect surfaces and practice good hand hygiene. Poor sanitation and limited access to clean water result in the deaths of nearly 1,000 children every day[i].
This is the reality daily in many parts of the world and now we have the added burden of the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to be problematic. We cannot fight infectious diseases like COVID-19 without access to clean water. Cleaning and disinfection products are water-based and require water for rinsing. Water is critically important to Diversey and the cleaning and sanitation industry.
In addition to the clean water required to make cleaning products and to rinse a sanitized surface, water is a key part of the product lifecycle upstream and downstream. The chemicals that comprise our cleaners and disinfectants require water in their extraction, processing, and manufacturing. Take, for instance, a plant-based surfactant used in our biodegradable product line, SURE. Agricultural by-products from crops like corn or soybeans are collected and sent to a manufacturing plant to be transformed into surfactants. However, the crops require a lot of water to grow. The water necessary to grow the crops and process into surfactants is part of the water footprint of our products. So is the water required to treat those products when they go down the drain and end up at a wastewater treatment site. It all adds up.
The nature of Diversey’s business highlights the issue of water availability, recognize the inequities of water access around the world, and refresh our efforts to save water and make it available to all communities.
Hygiene, sanitation, and healthy environments require a lot of clean water and this year’s World Water Day is another opportunity to realize that critical link.
The UN Sustainable Development water goal aims to ensure safe water for all by 2030. And as a global supplier of water saving technologies, water conservation services, and water-based products that often require water during use, Diversey strives to provide universal solutions that can benefit everyone.
The need for action on water security has led Diversey to make water stewardship a central component of our sustainability goals and our “Facilitators for Life” program. Our targets include reducing water use in our operations, quantifying water savings for our customers, and identifying water savings opportunities in our innovations. All of these are important, but the biggest benefit that Diversey can provide comes from our water savings products and solutions.
Throughout the course of Diversey’s almost 100 years of providing cleaning and hygiene technologies, we have demonstrated that conserving water is good for business. Diversey’s customers in hospitality, healthcare, food service, building services, retail, and food & beverage rely on cleaning product technologies, equipment innovations, and services that help save billions of gallons of water.
World Water Day is a call for organizations to find solutions, collaborate, and solve this pervasive problem. Today, Diversey reaffirms our commitment to responsible use, customer partnerships, and water saving innovations.
Learn more about Diversey’s commitments to social and environmental stewardship by visiting our Sustainability section.
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