Water should be more highly valued to reflect its worth and reduce its waste, said Paul Bulcke, chief executive officer at Nestle SA, the world’s biggest food company.
“If something isn’t given a value, people tend to waste it,” Bulcke said at a World Water Week seminar in Stockholm. “Water is our most useful resource but those using it often don’t even cover the costs of its infrastructure.”
Water withdrawals have tripled over the past half-century as the population grew and demand increased, with agriculture accounting for about 70 percent of global water use and industry 20 percent, according to United Nations data.
PepsiCo Inc. on Aug. 28 won an honorary award at the Stockholm event for efforts by the food and beverage company to conserve billions of gallons of water in its operations through new water management and farm irrigation methods including water-saving equipment, recycling and re-use.
The annual water event, organized by the Stockholm International Water Institute, started in 1991 and this year is focusing on how to curb food waste and use water more efficiently.
“Fresh water is being massively overused at nature’s expense but it seems only a global crisis will make us realize the importance of the issue,” Bulcke said, according to Nestle’s website.
“What is environmentally unsustainable today will become socially unsustainable in the future” should water scarcity issues raise tensions over food supply and demand, he said.
Nestle, based in Vevey, Switzerland, owns water brands including Perrier, Vittel and the largest bottled-water label, Pure Life.