In our work with our customers, we see the signs of progress all around us. Whether it’s saving water and energy or reducing waste and greenhouse gas emissions, there’s a growing realization that these priorities go hand-in-hand with business growth and profitability.
We all must work together to make the most of this opportunity. If we seize it now, we can build an economy that offers sustainable growth for all while taking care of our planet.
At Ecolab, we are helping to drive these positive developments forward. Our expertise puts us at the crossroads of global macro trends. Around the world, we help our customers deal with the demands of population growth, economic growth, urbanization, changing consumer habits, climate change and water scarcity.
We do this in ways big and small, from providing a more water- and energy-efficient dish machine program to your favorite restaurant to reducing water use for steel mills, car manufacturers and power plants. In each case, we help our customers work more efficiently and reduce costs, while lowering their impact on the environment and saving energy and natural resources.
By the nature of our work, we help companies achieve their sustainability goals. In 2018, we helped our customers around the world save 188 billion gallons of water, equivalent to the annual drinking water needs of 650 million people. We are on our way to achieving our 2030 goal of saving 300 billion gallons, enough for the annual drinking water needs of one billion people. We also helped customers save 19 trillion British thermal units (BTUs) of energy, avoid 2.4 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions and eliminate 54 million pounds of waste.
We can do that because of our mix of service, expertise, insights and innovation. Using connected digital technology and data science, we can do things that were simply impossible just a few years ago. Today, for instance, we have 40,000 of our connected 3D TRASAR™ smart water sensors deployed worldwide, across a host of industries. Thanks to that network, we can spot trends that were previously invisible and address problems before they happen. That helps our customers adjust to changing circumstances in real-time, boost efficiency and minimize their environmental impacts.
In the aggregate, this moves the world closer to the ambition of UN Sustainable Development Goal 6: Ensuring access to clean water and sanitation for all.
We do the same work for our own operations. We are making systematic investments in reducing, reusing and recycling water at our plants around the world. Building on steady efficiency gains, we are closing in on our greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal of 10 percent by 2020 and will likely surpass it significantly.
At the same time, we kept more than 71 million pounds of plastic out of landfills in the last five years. We did that by using recycled plastic instead of virgin resin and by designing our products more efficiently. One example: using concentrated solid chemistries in shrink wrap instead of bulky liquids in large containers, which reduces plastic needed for packaging by 99 percent.
The world faces major pressure on our natural resources, but much of the technology we need to solve these problems is here today. Now is the time to step up our efforts and expand our focus.
We as business leaders have a leadership role to play. We can’t turn the world around all by ourselves, but together, we can accelerate positive change. Set ambitious goals to make sure the returns are worth the work. There’s nothing more inspiring than driving change that matters.