british american tobacco p.l.c. sustainability report 2010 - Water management at Souza Cruz

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Sustainability Report 2010
Brazil factory

Water management is a key element of Souza Cruz’s long-term sustainability objectives. Good water management benefits the entire supply chain. For example, farmers produce better harvests with higher-grade crops and Souza Cruz’s offices reduce their treated water costs. Good water management also minimises the impact of liquid wastes from manufacturing on local communities and the environment.

Water management in agricultural processes

Souza Cruz has a direct relationship with some 40,000 local tobacco farmers and a long-standing sustainable agriculture programme, of which water management is a key aspect. As part of the agronomy support the company provides, its leaf managers have worked with farmers to improve water management.

One initiative that has been underway for several years involves the farmers planting tobacco in straw along high, broad-based ridges. This reduces soil erosion, minimises evaporation, optimises land use and maximises the use of rainwater. It also reduces the risk of seedlings drowning in years with heavy rains, and helps to maintain a steady soil moisture content, through periods of high or low rainfall.

Techniques like these benefit the farmers through higher productivity and profits, while also benefiting the company with higher quality leaf and crop yields.

Water management at company premises

Good water management practices are also adopted in Souza Cruz’s own premises.

The company works to closely monitor water use at its manufacturing sites, with many initiatives underway to reduce water consumption and re-use treated sewage.

For example, the roof of the Souza Cruz factory at Cachoeirinha is fitted with a rainwater collection system. Once collected, the water is stored in an artificial lake, from which it is piped for use in the manufacturing process. This rainwater accounts for 59 per cent of all water used at the factory. This means Souza Cruz requires less water from the local supplier, helping to improve water availability for the local community.

At Souza Cruz’s Uberlândia factory, 100 per cent of sewage is treated and the resulting water is used in the cooling towers for gardening or for cleaning the bathrooms. This reduces the company’s reliance on purchased water.

Small initiatives such as installing taps with automatic sensors in office bathrooms have also helped to reduce unnecessary water consumption.

In 2010, the company’s water use was 2.67 cubic metres per million cigarettes equivalent produced – a reduction of 6 per cent from 2.84 cubic metres in 2009.

From 2011, the challenge will be to make the best possible use of treated sewage and improve the quality of liquid wastes so that they can be re-used.