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Water Footprint: The Next Challenge for the Plastics Industry

SpecialChem / Jul 5, 2010

Water Footprint can be defined as the volume of water abstracted from local sources minus the volume released in the same place after treatment making fresh water available for re-use. During the last 50 years, the global population has doubled, and the water demand tripled. With the increase of the population and the economic development, there is a growing deterioration of the fresh water situation in terms of quantity and quality. An overexploitation of the underground reserves, drying of rivers, etc. are reducing the available water and increasing pollution (eutrophication, organic pollution, salt intrusion etc.) is making certain reserves unavailable.

Industrial uses account for about 20% of global freshwater withdrawals. Of this, 60-70% is used for power generation, and 30-40% for other industrial processes. Plastics, as the other materials, use water and affect it during the various steps of their life: resin production, processing, use and recycling. The water footprint of resin and part production broadly varies with the polymer family, the polymerization process, the waste water treatments, the recycling of water and the use of raw water in the processes.

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