Effective water stewardship must be a priority in areas which are currently water-scarce, but also those areas which are projected to become water-stressed in the next couple of decades. With this in mind, we have taken our water strategy further in FY2017, taking a closer look at the granular details of how our sites use this precious resource. Our water management approach varies for the short, medium and long term. Developing a greater understanding of our water cycle helps us identify where improvements can be made across our facilities.

Progress towards target

Reduce by 50% our water withdrawal intensity (m3/tcarbon black) versus FY2012 baseline for our high- and medium-risk sites.

Baseline FY2012FY2015FY2016FY2017FY2020 target

Assessing our water vulnerability

We have been seeking to improve our water approach since FY2015, when we partnered with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the World Resource Institute (WRI) to assess the water stress level at each of our manufacturing sites through the WRI’s Aqueduct™ tool. For our plants based in India, we complemented the assessment using the specific India Water Tool.

Aqueduct and the India Water Tool have provided us with an informative, high-level and generic assessment for all our sites. However, Birla Carbon recognizes that a more localized approach is now necessary for our most vulnerable sites to appraise the risk levels before devising specific water mitigation plans.

Our new water risk management approach is inspired by the six-step methodology advocated by the European Water Stewardship Standard, the Alliance for Water Stewardship Standard and the ABG Technical Standard (Water Management).

  1. Commitment – our recognition (pdf, 82KB) that risks must be assessed.
  2. Water inventory – our experts collate site-specific water balance data, an inventory of water challenges and an understanding of water conveyance and treatment systems.
  3. Water risk assessment – we carry out a generic water risk assessment, coupled with a detailed local source vulnerability assessment.
  4. Water risk mitigation plans (WRMPs) – we develop the plans required for both internal and external mitigation.
  5. Implement and monitor WRMPs – we deploy the plans, including internal actions and external engagement, tracking progress.
  6. Communicate performance – we report on our progress, both internally and externally.

Good health and wellbeing

We seek to prevent illnesses indirectly by reducing water pollution.

Clean water and sanitation

We monitor our water use and recycle and reuse as much as possible. We have recently implemented a more detailed water risk assessment approach, designed to give us a site-specific performance appraisal.

Partnerships for the goals

We help achieve the goals by working closely with our stakeholders, including our suppliers, regulators and governments.

15 out of 16 manufacturing locations use recycled process water and/or rainwater in their operations

Our water risks

As identified by the Aqueduct Tool in partnership with WBCSD and WRI


  1. North America

    a Hickok, USA

  2. South Asia

    b Gummidipoondi, India

    c Renukoot, India

  3. South East Asia and Far East

    d Weifang, China

    e Liaoning, China

    f Yeosu, South Korea


  1. South America

    g Bahia, Brazil

  2. Europe and Africa

    h Hannover, Germany

    i Trecate, Italy

    j Santander, Spain

  3. South East Asia and Far East

    kAngthong, Thailand



  1. North America

    l North Bend, USA

    m Hamilton, Canada

  2. South America

    nCubatão, Brazil

  3. Europe and Africa

    o Alexandria, Egypt

    p Tiszaújváros, Hungary

  4. South Asia

    qPatalganga, India


In FY2017, we began implementing this approach in our three sites deemed the most water vulnerable:

  • Gummidipoondi, India – identified as high-risk site due to cyclic drought and recognized as a potential model site for water conservation practices;
  • Hickok, US – identified as high risk for a potential lack of water and waste water management challenges; and
  • Patalganga, India – identified as potentially high risk due to a significant predicted population growth in the long term, coupled with water resource constraints.

Furthermore, we decided to use our greenfield site in Jining, China, to develop a theoretical baseline for water balance. Once fully operational, this plant will help us validate our water balance methodology.

We also conducted local source vulnerability assessments at Gummidipoondi, Hickok and Patalganga, using a customized questionnaire that addressed current and future physical, financial, reputational and regulatory risks as perceived by site professionals. These assessments serve as the basis for developing mitigation plans for the three sites, with the eventual aim of covering all our facilities in the coming years.

Targeting our water use in Hickok

We have sharpened our water strategy in FY2017 to look at specific sites in greater detail. One such site is Hickok, our facility in Kansas, USA. Hickok had been rated as a high-risk facility by Aqueduct, based on several criteria, including water stress, flood occurrence, upstream storage and quality concerns.

Using the customized questionnaire, the facility clarified each risk (physical, financial, reputational and regulatory): for example, although Aqueduct had indicated a risk of flooding, the site informed us that floods had not impacted it in 30 years. On the other hand, of much greater concern to the facility was water disposal and adequate supply, due to a lack of nearby streams.

Using the findings from Hickok’s water risk assessment, we will be able to develop a risk management plan that can more accurately minimize, mitigate and manage the impacts on water sources for their long-term viability.

  • Resource consumption
  • Water

Water cycle at Birla Carbon sites

We minimize use, reuse and recycle water as much as possible. For example, once water has been used in the manufacturing process at one place, it is directed into retention ponds so it can be re-directed back into another process where high-quality water is not a necessity. Our water conservation best practices are shared across all our locations as part of our Sustainable Operational Excellence (SOE) strategy.

Our water cycle

The water cycle at Birla Carbon sites

All water

Water withdrawn from source

Waste water discharge

Recycled water

*Approximately 3,652,000 m3 (19%) reused from retention ponds in FY2017. Recycled process water and rainwater is collected in retention ponds and pumped back into the process.

Water withdrawal by source


15,918,878 m3
  • 46%Surface water
  • 31%Municipality
  • 23%Groundwater well

Water discharge by destination


4,193,403 m3
  • 3%Sanitary
  • 21%On-site retention pond
  • 68%Surface water
  • 8%Municipal waste water treatment process (WTTP)

Water treatment success in Egypt

Reducing water consumption is one of our priorities; another is how we reuse and handle our waste water. We seek to reuse and recycle as much water as possible. One example is our facility in Alexandria, Egypt. Over several years, this plant has implemented a number of water-related best practices to achieve zero liquid discharge in FY17.

Approximately 65% of the waste water generated on-site in Alexandria was being reused without treatment. Any water not used was siphoned off by the reverse osmosis (RO) system and mixed with industrial waste water from other processes before being discharged.

In FY2017, the facility invested in a treatment system for the remaining 35% of waste water. This system treats around 500 m3 per day, which comes from the RO system, and reduces the waste water disposed off-site. Thanks to this initiative and other conservation measures implemented at Alexandria, the facility achieved zero water discharge in FY2017.

  • Water