Feature Story

Water Usage at Baxter Focuses on Conservation and Efficiency Projects

Employees at Baxter's facility in Atlacomulco, Mexico, understand the importance of conserving water. Located in a water-stressed region of the country, water conservation in Atlacomulco is both integral to meeting the needs of the local community and necessary for manufacturing the life saving and sustaining intravenous solutions and administration sets used in the delivery of fluids and drugs to patients.

Employees addressed this issue head-on by initiating innovative water reuse projects, with encouraging results. Last year, employees reduced absolute water use by 26 percent compared to 2010, saving 4,600 cubic meters of water annually.

Similar efficiency projects are occurring throughout the company every day to conserve this finite natural resource. As highlighted during World Water Week organized by the Stockholm International Water Institute, the issues of water scarcity and access to water continue to grow in visibility and importance worldwide.

"Water is critical to human health and the environment, and is essential to many of Baxter's products and manufacturing processes," said Art Gibson, Baxter's Vice President of Environment, Health and Safety. "We take seriously our responsibility to conserve water, and have goals to reduce water consumption, help protect vulnerable watersheds and provide communities with enhanced access to clean water."

Baxter's 2015 water-reduction goal is to reduce water consumption by 35 percent indexed to revenue by 2015, compared to 2005. In 2011, Baxter's global operations used approximately 13.8 million cubic meters of water. The company used 6 percent less water in 2011 than in 2005 in absolute terms, and 33 percent less indexed to revenue. Although Baxter is on target to meet this goal, last year the company's total water usage increased for the first time since 2005. Baxter used 4 percent more water in absolute terms in 2011 than in 2010, largely due to increased manufacturing activity at numerous Baxter facilities globally.

Baxter is committed to reducing water consumption, and has implemented water recovery and reuse projects at several facilities, as well as educating employees about water conservation. For example, Baxter's Los Angeles facility reduced wastewater from cooling towers, reverse osmosis equipment, and water distillation equipment to decrease water use by nearly 50,000 cubic meters compared to 2010. Additionally, Baxter's Mountain Home, Arkansas, facility implemented several water conservation projects including improved use of water treatment equipment such as water softeners that have decreased water usage by nearly 6,100 cubic meters annually.

The company also has committed to implement projects by 2015 to help protect vulnerable watersheds and provide communities with enhanced access to clean water. Baxter has recently entered into an agreement with a local non-governmental organization to implement a community water project near the company's facility in Canlubang, Philippines. Baxter also is exploring a project near its Cuernavaca, Mexico, facility.

Although a global concern, addressing water scarcity and access to water requires action at a local or regional level since conservation efforts in one part of the world do not help address water scarcity and access in other locations. To understand water risks associated with local operations, Baxter uses the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) Global Water Tool to evaluate the availability of renewable water resources at Baxter's largest water-consuming locations. While the WBCSD water tool has helped Baxter screen operations located in potentially water-scarce or water-stressed areas, the company has initiated a study to better understand the full water risk at each location. In doing so, Baxter intends to continue making positive strides in its ongoing efforts to ensure that it uses water responsibly.

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