An essential input for production processes – which is reflected in food safety and quality, and sustainable business growth – water and its consumption are managed in accordance with the best practices and requirements of Marfrig's various product export markets. The results are reported as part of Water, Emissions and Forestry indicators, both in the CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project) reports and the Annual Sustainability Report.
The scarcity of water caused by climate change is being carefully addressed, a reality that has altered rainfall patterns in a number of the world's regions. Tropical climate areas frequently have encountered more severe drought periods, reflected in situations of water scarcity, such as was observed in Brazil in 2014. In that year, the country went through one of the most severe droughts in its history in the Southeast and Midwest regions, and the situation was repeated in 2018, with less intensity, but sufficient to significantly reduce the quality of pasturelands.
This topic is managed on two fronts:
- On premises, the adoption of good consumption practices. Marfrig has set a target of reducing the rate of water withdrawal per tonne of meat produced by 2020 by 30%, based on 2013's data.
- In the value chain, Marfrig engages with its partners to also adopt good water management practices.
Water usage in installations
Water is used for purposes ranging from cooling and cleaning processes to contact with the meat produced, playing a key role in refrigeration processes. The company is proactive in its management, to assure that it exercises strict quality and quantity control.
Water consumption management in all company units is being addressed on five fronts:
Measurement and monitoring: 100% of the operational units measure the volume of water collected, observing the requirements made by the environmental agencies of their respective countries. This makes it possible for Marfrig to identify improvements and operational opportunities, as well as manage the costs associated with the chemicals used for water treatment. In addition, the measurement of water capture by source is important to evaluate and manage the available sources. Consumption data will be audited in 2020.
Treatment: Marfrig's units have built Water Treatment Plants (WTPs) in accordance with each catchment source. Hence, the treated water in the units is distributed to meet the potability standards required by the laws of each country. This includes analyses of the physical and chemical parameters as determined by the regulatory authority, ensuring there is no contamination in the process.
Water risk-based management: To identify sensitive areas in terms of quality or quantity of water available, global operations identify units exposed to such risks through the AQUEDUCT tool available from the World Resources Institute (WRI).
Learn more about the water situation in the countries in which Marfrig operates:
Water efficiency: For Marfrig, it is not enough to just distribute water for operations and ensure potability. The company believes it is necessary to use water consciously, proactively caring for this natural resource. To meet this goal, all units adopt measures to reduce water consumption in their work processes, including the use of flow reducing equipment installed in sinks, boot and carcass scrubbers and feed automation for high-consumption equipment systems, among other solutions. There is also a specific agenda for employee training and awareness actions. In areas that do not require water that is up to potability standards, re-usage projects are adopted.
Consumption targets: The production units are assigned water consumption reduction targets consistent with the production volume and the characteristics of each locale. The metrics consider the water consumption per slaughtered animal in the slaughtering units and the production volumes in the plants.
Water use in the value chain
All who participate in the supply chain are encouraged to adopt best practices for water use. To raise water efficiency throughout the production chain, Marfrig is developing new partnerships and programs with suppliers and the initiatives will be reported in the CDP Water 2020 cycle. Several practices are encouraged through the Marfrig Club program under the “Environmental Respect" pillar, which encompasses efforts to minimize the impacts of livestock raising activities on the environment.
The topics linked to good water usage practices are covered in the Marfrig Club Sustainable Practices Guide. Guidance includes:
- Reduction in water consumption in livestocking activities: Marfrig urges producers to invest in animals with genetic characteristics that allow early slaughter. In this way, the raising time will be shorter and, as a consequence, there is less water consumption.
- Use of water in animal feed: Early slaughter also leads to a lower demand for inputs in the animal feed production stage.