Addressing water in life cycle analyses of products and services is becoming more urgent given the increasing threats to this essential resource. In parallel, the availability of high resolution data allows an adequate recognition of water related issues in a way it has not been possible before. Currently methods are being developed and standardised. This allows a thorough assessment of the impacts of water use on local conditions. It is based on an evaluation of the water availability and scarcity in the area, the volumes used and consumed, and the effluent's water quality as part of a comprehensive analysis of all impacts along the life cycle.
The development of impact assessment methods for water use is a complex issue, and numerous initiatives are on-going. ACE members are involved in several such initiatives, including the development of water footprint indicators that measure the total volumes of water used in the production of beverage cartons. They support the development of an ISO standard on water footprint to ensure harmonised rules worldwide and across industry sectors and to guarantee coherence to the umbrella concept of LCA as given in ISO 14040.
ACE members believe that the impact assessment of water use has to take into consideration local factors such as water scarcity and the environmental statuses of water bodies receiving discharges, to make an appropriate assessment possible.
ACE members are aware of knowledge gaps when it comes to assessing water issues throughout the beverage carton supply chain. This encouraged ACE to start a study to quantify consumed volumes of water at different stages of a beverage carton life-cycle and allocate impacts appropriately in 2013. This study will help ACE members to include water use related impact into its set of environmental indicators. These indicators serve as levers to achieve improvements along the life cycle in coherence to their environmental responsibility. The outcomes of the study will be presented in 2014.