Water Labeling Systems under Consideration

February 25, 2011

Some experts are now calling for a labeling system so that consumers can have a better idea of how much water is used to grow agricultural products or manufacturer goods.

One of the leaders of the movement is Dr. Brent Clothier of the New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research Ltd., whose specialty is plant water use. He urged the introduction of a water labeling system at the Australian Society of Agronomy conference, held in Lincoln, New Zealand, toward the end of 2010.

Clothier believes a water-labeling system would increase consumer awareness of water use and encourage manufacturers to use less water to manufacture products.

“ENERGY STAR and WaterSense has been very successful in this way,” says Klaus Reichardt, founder and CEO ofWaterless Co. Inc., manufacturers of no-flush urinal systems. “They have made consumers much more energy and water conscious and encouraged manufacturers to make products that are more efficient.”

Reichardt cites two key reasons we are now hearing calls for a water-labeling system.

“The first is because we are becoming much more concerned about water shortages around the world and the other is due to recent studies that surprised many people, indicating just how much water is used to manufacture products we use every day,” he says.

Reichardt is referring to studies released in the past year that indicate:

  • An estimated 39,000 gallons of water are used to make one car;
  • Two thousand gallons are used to make tires for the car;
  • More than 1,800 gallons of water are necessary to grow the cotton for one pair of jeans;
  • One pound of plastic requires 24 gallons of water; and
  • One latte requires 53 gallons of water, which includes the water necessary to grow the coffee as well as to make the paper and plastic for the cup.

Although the water-labeling idea has not garnered government interest as yet, it is getting attention in private industry. Corporations such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and the Coca-Cola Co. are getting much more water conscious.

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