Bisleri proposes water credit system for beverage industry

  • Bisleri will share its findings with the central government to facilitate discussions and develop a framework, advancing the concept of water credits for the beverages industry. The proposal is aimed at making beverage makers more accountable towards water usage.

Suneera Tandon
First Published2 Jun 2024, 06:47 PM IST
The company has partnered TERI School of Advanced Studies, to launch a study to set a benchmark for the beverage industry's commitment to water conservation. (Photo: Mint)
The company has partnered TERI School of Advanced Studies, to launch a study to set a benchmark for the beverage industry’s commitment to water conservation. (Photo: Mint)

Mumbai: Packaged water maker Bisleri is looking to introduce water credits akin to carbon credits, aimed at making beverage makers more accountable for water usage.

The company has partnered TERI School of Advanced Studies to conduct a study that would set a benchmark for the beverage industry's commitment to water conservation.

The study assumes significance given that several large beverage makers have been criticized for extracting water from water stressed areas. Several companies now report initiatives to replenish water used during their manufacturing process.

Green credit for water conservation

Bisleri said it will share its findings with the central government to facilitate discussions and develop a framework, advancing the concept of water credits for the beverages industry. 

“The water sector can generate green credits through water conservation, water harvesting, and water use efficiency, including treatment and reuse of wastewater,” the company said.
 This will be similar to how companies buy credits to offset their emissions. 

"This report is about proposing a model to the government—they can use and craft it. So, we are requesting the government to set up a platform as quickly as possible, similar to carbon credits, using this as a template," Angelo George, CEO, Bisleri International said in an interview.


Water savings need localized approaches

The study aimed to review national and international practices and policies in water trading, water credits and fiscal instruments and develop a methodological framework to estimate water footprint of a production unit. The study also tested and estimated the water footprint of two production units of Bisleri in two distinctly different terrains. 

Unlike carbon emissions, water savings require a localized approach, factoring in variables such as rainfall and consumption at a watershed level, it said.

Problem of water scarcity

In India, 11 out 15 major river basins will be water-stressed by 2025, with per-capita annual water availability below 1,700 cubic meters, according to data from the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, a New Delhi-based think tank.

Read | Water level in reservoirs shrinks further to 27% of storage capacity

Bisleri’s move also comes after the government notified a Green Credit Program (GCP ) in October, 2023. The CPG is a market-based mechanism designed to incentivize voluntary environmental actions across diverse sectors, by various stakeholders like individuals, communities, private sector industries, and companies. In its initial phase, the CPG will focus on two key activities i.e. water conservation and afforestation. However, there is no official platform yet that permits trading of green credits in India.

Those in the beverage industry said that while the idea is novel, it could face challenges in implementation. “This is a responsible way for the industry to be more water-efficient, although several large companies are already replenishing water they use,” said a senior executive in the beverages industry, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Additionally, ground water usage in India is already governed by various national and state-level rules that restrict the amount of water companies can draw for industrial and commercial use. 

And this | Reservoir levels fall further to 31% of total storage capacity

For instance, bottled water companies must obtain necessary No Objection Certificates (NOCs) for groundwater extraction and then undertake measures for groundwater replenishment. Packaged water units are also penalized for going above the minimum quantum of ground water withdrawal. Rates of ground water abstraction charges for packaged drinking water units vary in safe, semi-critical and critical assessment units, per rules laid out by the Central Ground Water Authority. However, companies also use other sources such as surface or municipal water—tariffs on which are different.

Others said the move is largely aligned to step up sustainable and environment-friendly practices followed by companies.

"If companies are able to follow efficient water use practices and earn credits their processes will be considered more environmentally friendly, because they are going to reduce their water footprint. Moreover, internationally, their product will have more acceptance, because you're contributing to environmental conservation. Third, is that it also reduces regulatory and reputational risk for organizations, said Nitin Bassi, senior programme lead for the sustainable water team at the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW).

However, Bassi warns that creating a baseline water footprint for the industry may have its challenges given the scale and scope of a given water unit. Smaller water units may be at a disadvantage when it comes to assessing their water footprint as their technology may not be at par with those deployed that large companies. "Additionally, while undertaking such projects, validating claims in the long-run becomes a challenge,” he said.

Also read | Heatwaves in most of India to abate over the next three days

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First Published:2 Jun 2024, 06:47 PM IST
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