Water & waste

Two parts of our everyday life that most take for granted, water and waste management are issues for a large number across the globe. But the fight for clean water, clear oceans and sustainable waste management is underway.

Investing in clean water and waste management

The funds below hold investments that touch on the theme of clean water, clearing our oceans and/or improving waste management. These funds still hold a diverse range of companies meaning that there may be some crossover within the responsible investing themes.

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The search for clean water

In the UK, the majority of people don’t even think about accessing clean water, with practically all houses having direct access to fresh drinking water. But across the world, there are over 2 billion people living with the risk of reduced access to clean water and 1 in 10 people drink from unprotected water sources. A staggering 1 in 4 health care facilities across the globe lacks basic water services, which is just one of the reasons why the United Nations have clean water and sanitation as one of their sustainable development goals.

Why is access to clean water still an issue?

Bad economics and poor infrastructure are big contributors to the freshwater shortage, which is only exacerbated by widespread drought that affects many countries, especially some of the poorest in the world.

There have been major strides in access and distribution of clean water, with over 90% of the world’s population now having access to improved sources of drinking water. This has been a huge improvement over the last 25 years, but there is still more to be done.

Waste management

There have been big developments in waste management over the last couple of decades, with recycling becoming more widely adopted and technologies advancing to produce energy from waste.

In the UK, we have seen a large increase in waste being incinerated to produce energy, with waste being sent to landfill decreasing by over 20% in recent years. However, a recent report found that only 20% of UK companies have a green policy, and 80% don’t even have separate recycling bins. With recycling and environmental issues becoming more of a hot topic, more legislation on waste management may be ahead for the UK.

What is being done to help?

Across the globe, there are hundreds of initiatives, charities and projects dedicated to clean water and more sustainable waste management. A lot of companies work closely with these projects, either to directly help with the goal or to improve their own business practices to reduce water usage and waste production.

Water Conservation Initiatives

Many companies have devoted time and money to water-related environmental commitments; two of the biggest being Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. The former has spent an estimated $2 billion on water conservation programs since 2003, including its pledge to improve the water efficiency of its manufacturing operations an additional 25 percent by 2020. Similarly, PepsiCo has invested more than $40 million in safe water access solutions, with an overall goal to support a total of 25 million people with safe water access by 2025.

Holy Grail Project

Recycling plastic waste has been somewhat of a struggle in the UK, not because it can’t be recycled, but because many types of packaging aren’t picked up by recycling machinery. This is set to change with the Holy Grail project, which is developing an industry-wide programme for tracer and watermark technology. This should enable machinery to easily identify each piece of plastic and sort it accordingly, increasing the amount of plastic that is recycled exponentially.

Rethink Plastic

Charitable organisations such as Plastic Oceans, Greenpeace and The Ocean Cleanup are leading the charge on initiatives to rid the oceans of plastic. Through campaigns to remove single use plastic from products, and innovations in ocean clean-up technologies, many businesses are now getting involved in the movement to clean our oceans and prevent further plastic pollution.

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