Effective water stewardship is a key priority, especially in locations which are water-scarce or projected to become water-stressed in the future. Our water strategy targets short-, medium- and long-term scenarios to further develop our understanding of our water cycle and identify ways we can improve and mitigate water risks at our facilities.

Progress towards target

Reduce by 50% our water withdrawal intensity (m3/tcarbon black) versus FY20131 baseline for our high- and medium-risk sites.

Baseline FY2013FY2016FY2017FY2018FY2030 target

1 Baseline adjusted to FY2013 from FY2012 due to more comprehensive and validated data availability for FY2013.

2 KPI adjusted to include Hickok, Cubatão, Gummidipoondi, Alexandria, Weifang, Bahia and Yeosu, and to exclude Angthong, Trecate, Santander and Renukoot (see explanation below).

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 Resources Institute (WRI) to assess the water stress level at each of our manufacturing sites using the WRI’s Aqueduct™ tool. For our plants based in India, we complemented the assessment using the specific India Water Tool. This approach provided us with an informative, high-level and generic assessment for all our sites. However, recognizing the need for a more localized approach to appraising risk levels before devising specific water mitigation plans for our most vulnerable sites, we introduced a new water risk management approach in FY2017.

In FY2018, as a result of our assessments, we included additional sites that are considered at high risk for water availability within our KPI3 and removed a number of sites that were included in the original KPI but are now deemed to be of lower risk4. We also adjusted the baseline to FY2013 and extended the target from 2020 to 2030.

Our water risk management approach

In FY2018, we published a new Water Stewardship Policy (pdf, 0.5 MB). It sets out our commitments to protect and conserve water resources through excellent water management practices and governance systems.

Our 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, 0.5MB) 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.

We began implementing the approach at our three sites deemed to be the most water vulnerable in FY2017: Gummidipoondi, India; Hickok, US; and Patalganga, India. We also included our greenfield site in Jining, China, in order to develop a theoretical baseline to help us validate our water balance methodology. We 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 will 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. In FY2018, we carried out water mapping for 14 facilities along with meter installation and repairs and other investments to support our approach.

Good health and well-being

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.

All manufacturing locations use recycled process water and/or rainwater in their operations.

Sharing best practice in water stewardship

From the plant floor to the sales floor, our passion for learning has no ceiling. We see shared insights as a vital resource, because we can achieve much more when we work together and learn together. In September 2017, sustainability professionals from Birla Carbon and eight other Aditya Birla Group (ABG) companies came together to explore opportunities and facilitate sharing of best practices and collaboration. One of the outcomes was the launch of the ABG Water Working Group, which met for the first time in December 2017. Led by Amy Hickman from Birla Carbon, the group meets bimonthly to promote sharing of best practices across topics including minimizing fresh water consumption, working toward zero liquid discharge, undertaking robust watershed studies and optimizing wastewater treatment. Hearing from external experts is key to developing the capabilities of the team; at the March 2018 meeting, we heard from the WBCSD about the recently released CEO Guide to Water. Going forward, the group will focus on opportunities for collaboration – creating water champions at each business and driving implementation of best practices globally.

  • Resource consumption
  • Water

Water cycle at Birla Carbon sites

We minimize use, and 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 that it can be redirected 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

Wastewater discharge

Recycled water

*Approximately 3,813,000 m3 (18%) reused from retention ponds in FY2018. Recycled process water and rainwater is collected in retention ponds and pumped back into the process.

Water withdrawal by source


17,021,916 m3
  • 44%Surface water
  • 26%Municipality
  • 30%Groundwater well

Water discharge by destination


4,411,298 m3
  • 2%Sanitary
  • 26%On-site retention pond
  • 64%Surface water
  • 8%Municipal wastewater treatment process (WTTP)

Delivering water savings and energy efficiency, together

We are constantly exploring and investing in the best available technology to reduce our environmental impacts, and we look for smart solutions that can deliver multiple benefits.

The water we use during carbon black manufacturing is primarily used for cooling the gas stream that is produced during our manufacturing process. Reducing this need is one of the key ways we can reduce our water consumption.

In FY2018, our plant in Thailand installed a quench boiler, an energy-efficient technology that is used to cool the gas stream, reducing the need to use water. It is the second such boiler to be installed across our facilities and it will reduce quench water demand by 1.5–2 tonnes/h. At the same time, it produces equal amounts of steam that can be sold or used to generate power for internal use or sale.

  • Water

3 Sites included: Hickok, Cubatão, Gummidipoodi, Alexandria, Weifang, Bahia and Yeosu.

4 Sites dropped that were included in the original KPI: Angthong, Trecate, Santander and Renukoot.