For nearly 4 billion people—two-thirds of the world population—severe water scarcity is a problem at least one month of the year. At the same time, in many parts of the world water can come in abundance and all at once in the form of severe and damaging rainfall.
Whether too little or too much, water and water management is critical for sustainable development and human survival, and as such gets worldwide attention every year on March 22nd, a day designated as World Water Day by the United Nations.
“ROCKWOOL has ambitious goals to reduce water usage across our operations. It is one of ten UN Sustainable Development Goals we have committed to contributing to and we will report on our progress in our upcoming Sustainability Report. In the areas of water consumption and water management, it is our products, both Grodan and Lapinus, where we have the biggest positive impact”, says Anthony Abbotts, Director of Sustainability for ROCKWOOL Group.
Use less water to grow more food
Agriculture accounts for nearly 70 percent of global freshwater consumption. Feeding the world is a critical task, but there are less thirsty alternatives to traditional, soil-based methods.
Hydroponics is one. Grodan produces growing media made from stone wool—specially treated to absorb water, instead of repel it—designed for hydroponic growing systems which require far less water and have acheived award winning results.
Tomatoes tell the story: To grow 1kg of tomatoes in a field requires 60 litres of water, compared to 15 litres in a hydroponic system and even less with Grodan's greenhouse monitoring technology. Grodan’s Andrew Lee talks about this and the water research Grodan is doing with Wageningen University in his article, “Make better use of your water”!
In 2018 alone, Grodan products saved approximately 94 million litres of water, an amount equal to the yearly needs of approximately 90,000 people. By comparison, ROCKWOOL Group used a total of roughly 4 million litres of water in 2018 across all offices and production facilities.
Urban farms and flood prevention
Vast greenhouses in the countryside aren’t the only places where food production innovation is happening. Stephen Leahy writes about the benefits of different approaches to urban farming in cities around the world to meet food needs while lowering resource consumption and environmental impact in his article, “Can urban agriculture feed growing cities, and save water?”
The challenge of more frequent and more severe rainfall is a growing issue particularly in urban environments with a lot of pavement and less opportunity for the rain to drain into the soil. With increasing urbanisation, Lapinus’ water management systems are helping communities safeguard infrastructure by absorbing and slowly releasing excess rainfall into surrounding soil or basins instead of “throwing it out” with the sewer water.
Go to the World Water Day site to learn more about the challenges and opportunities the world has with its most important resource.