Our water stewardship

We are acutely aware that water is one of the world’s most vital resources, and because Reed Elsevier and its businesses have a direct impact on the environment, including through the use of water across more than 200 locations globally, we work to continually improve our environmental performance and drive good practice in our supply chain.

Reed Elsevier engages with shareholders with a strong interest in water issues and is a founding contributor to CDP Water Disclosure. We are also a signatory to the United Nations CEO Water Mandate, which addresses the challenges posed by water scarcity and quality to communities and ecosystems. 

Our goals
We have set a target to reduce our water consumption by 10% between 2008 and 2015 and report publicly on our progress.  We have an ongoing programme of water reduction measures including sprinkler system adjustments, leak identification and repair, and installing waterless urinals where practicable. For example, at our New Providence location the detection of a leak led to a 54% water reduction in 2010.

Our direct operations
During 2010, our water usage in intensity terms continued to move downward with a 4% reduction between 2009 and 2010 and a 27% reduction since 2006. Absolute water usage also decreased by 4% between 2009 and 2010, but has fluctuated over the last five years due to acquisitions and changes in employee numbers.

Our supply chain and watershed management
We use a watershed risk management system to identify the river basins from which our sites draw water.

Water-related issues are fundamentally related to location and exposure to water stress. We use a watershed risk management system to identify the river basins our sites draw water from based on the World Business Council for Sustainable Development Global Water Tool. The majority of the water we use comes from central supply to our offices, but we also explore opportunities for reclaimed ‘grey water’ systems.

In reviewing our 2010 property portfolio, 47% of reporting locations (based on 1995 World Resources Institute guidelines) are in areas at risk of water stress or severe water stress which could lead to economic development and food production issues in the future. The majority of these are in developed countries, with a high capability for water adaptation and mitigation. We will continue to focus reduction efforts in areas of severe water stress where they will have the most impact.

Water consumption in our supply chain is a key issue, particularly by paper and print manufacturers, often located in stressed or severely stressed areas. In 2010, we continued to map supply chain water stress. With online training, tools and support, we received data from 17% of suppliers we asked to complete a water footprint survey. We calculated a relative impact of 781,454 m3 based on the percentage of water they used for production on our behalf.

Collective action with our peers

We work with other companies on water and other environmental issues and are founding members of PREPS (Publishers database for Responsible and Ethical Paper Sourcing), a database capturing the technical specifications of the pulps and forest sources of our papers.  We are working with others in our sector to expand this to include the water impact of paper production.

In 2011, we have helped establish the Water Action Hub with corporate peers and other stakeholders, to create a publicly available tool to help companies partner with governments, civil society groups, communities, and others to advance sustainable water management on a location-specific basis.

Public policy engagement

We support progressive environmental legislation on issues with a water dimension like climate change.  In 2010, we continued to work with the Aldersgate Group and joined a campaign calling on the UK government for mandatory environmental reporting requirements. We also consulted with the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; and worked with NGO partners like Earthwatch, the Carbon Trust, and participated in the Water Disclosure Project.

Community engagement in water projects

Just a Drop was founded by staff behind Reed Exhibitions’ flagship show, World Travel market (WTM), as part of an appeal to the global travel and tourism industry. WTM is a business-to-business one week exhibition held each November in London. More than 5,000 exhibitors representing all major industry sectors from 189 destinations worldwide participate, and over 47,532 industry professionals attend. Since it was founded 11 years ago, Just a Drop has undertaken over 70 water aid projects and helped over one million children and their families in 30 countries.

To help deal with the devastation caused by the Haiti earthquake in January 2010, Just a Drop initiated Just Help Haiti. Among the Reed Exhibitions shows that supported the campaign, which raised over £155,000, were 360 IT, Aerospace Testing, Infosecurity, 100% Design, and the London Book Fair. The funds are being directed to clean water and sanitation projects for schools now being rebuilt.

Our impact
We make a positive environmental impact through our leading-edge environmental publications and services which spread good practice, encourage debate, and aid researchers and decisions makers.  They range from journals like Water Research, magazines such as New Scientist and Environment in Business, law reviews including Waters and Water Rights, databases like ScienceDirect and Scopus, newsletters including Research Trends, and exhibitions including Pollutec and World Future Energy Summit.