To be able to make their water use sustainable, the international operating industries are aware that radical changes are needed. That was put forward by the captains of industry of DSM, Shell and Unilever during the Industrial Leaders Forum in Amsterdam at the Aquatech/International Water Week on November 3.

One of the largest users of water
The industry is globally one of the largest users of water. Companies and their leaders need to take responsibility for a sustainable world and reduce their waterfootprint, but at the same time taking advantage of business opportunities.

This was the central theme of the dialogue organized between representatives of the international operating industry and the water sector.

The aim was to challenge the water sector to innovate and developing a road map to identify crucial necessary advances.

New products with less water demand
The forum made clear that the industry is especially interesting in new products that use less water in the whole product life cycle. They prefer investments in new products that lead to growth. This message is better understood in the board rooms of the multinationals, than the request for investments in costly water treatment installations.

As Robert Claasen director corporate manufacturing of the chemical company DSM said to the forum: “So far it has been easy by being more efficient with water at our production plants. But to be able to keep operating in the future we shall have to redesign the whole value chain of our products”.

As an example Claasen mentioned the special enzyme his company produces for breweries. “A new way of thinking is to produce a new enzyme that enables the brewers to use less water for producing their beer.”

Industrial water market is already changing
Also participating in the forum on behalf of the water sector were the directors of Arcadis (water division), Amiad and DOW. Surprisingly they already notice considerable changes amongst their industrial clients.

While the CEO's of the multinationals are talking in their board rooms about totally new product concepts, locally the demand on the industrial water treatment market is already changing.

Serious about sustainability
“The last five years we have seen a tremendous change”, explained Snehai Desai, global marketing director of DOW water & process solutions. The industry started to take sustainability very serious and instead of demanding equipment only, it now asks for eco services."

According to Desai the change is especially noticeable in areas where the water problems are most felt. "People are no longer waiting for the government to decide on water investments. In burning places the locals take action and start to implement innovative water technologies. They don’t spend long discussion about optimal solutions. They go for the good, not the perfect”, said Desai of DOW.

Initiator and chairman of the forum, Menno Holterman of the Netherlands Water Technology Innovation Board, ended the forum by inviting the members to come back to Amsterdam for the next Aquatech/International Water Week in November 2013 and report on their progress on the collaboration with all stake holders in the water chain.

Participating in the industrial leaders panel:
Robert Claasen, Royal DSM, global manufacturing director
Gerald Schotman, Royal Dutch Shell, executive vice president innovation
Daan Dijk, Rabobank, managing director sustainable business development
Hans Droge, Unilever, senior vice president research development

Participating in the water industry panel:
Bill Dee, Arcadis, global director water
Snehal Desai, Dow Water Process Solutions, global marketing director
Arik Dayan, Amiad Filtration Systems, chief executive officer

Discussion leader:
Menno Holterman, chairman Netherlands Water Technology Innovation Board