On World Water Day, San Miguel Corp (SMC) reported that its businesses collectively saved some 33,865,901,000 liters of water from 2017 to 2022—equivalent to the annual consumption of over 94,000 households, or the monthly use of over 1.129 million families.
The water savings, part of the company’s long-running “Water for All” water sustainability initiative, represent a 21.65% reduction in the use of scarce water across the larger San Miguel Group.
This includes Petron Corp, San Miguel Global Power, San Miguel Foods, San Miguel Brewery Inc, Ginebra San Miguel Inc, San Miguel Yamamura Packaging Corp, Northern Cement, SMC Infrastructure, and San Miguel Properties Inc.
Petron topped the list with the most water savings, accounting for over 17 billion liters saved throughout the six-year period, due largely to its use of water desalination technology, which enables the safe and sustainable use of seawater for cooling facilities at its state-of-the-art refinery in Limay, Bataan.
For 2022, Petron was also the top performer, saving 2,082,244,000 liters of water, followed by San Miguel Global Power at 1,500,406,000 liters. Ginebra San Miguel and San Miguel Packaging came in third and fourth with 1,107,000,000 liters and 1,038,094,000 liters, respectively.
“Water issues have always been a priority for San Miguel, especially since much of our operations and all our communities depend on access to water. This is why we have not let up on our efforts to continuously increase water savings at our facilities across the whole San Miguel Group,” SMC president and chief executive officer Ramon S. Ang said.
Ang added that through its established Water Council, made up of water and technical experts across its different businesses, programs, and innovations in support of water recycling and reuse have now become commonplace at all its installations.
For example, SMC’s newer plants are constructed with built-in rainwater harvesting facilities. Older facilities meanwhile invest to put up rainwater catchment and collection systems.
Another 473.8 million liters of water
For 2022, the San Miguel Group collected and used some 473,862,000 liters of rainwater, a significant jump from 114,368,000 liters saved in 2021, Ang said, illustrating some of the progress made in further lessening dependence on scarce water sources.
The use of recycled water for various processes across the different SMC businesses was however significantly higher, topping out at 1,461,065,000 liters in 2022, from 1,089,744,000 liters in 2021.
Still, seawater desalination continued to account for the majority of the water reduction, at 2,880,267,000 liters in 2022, from 2,002,458 liters in the previous year.
In recent years, SMC has taken a determined, proactive stance to address major issues related to water and the environment.
No more plastic bottled water
In 2017, it announced that it was exiting from its then-profitable plastic bottled water business, to demonstrate its commitment to greater sustainability goals, and help minimize plastic waste that ends up in bodies of water. It then announced its “Water for All” initiative, which mandates a 50% reduction in utility water use across all SMC companies by 2025.
It also invested significantly in the Bulakan Bulk Water Project, to provide potable water at a low price to all water districts in Bulacan province. This is so water districts can deliver potable water to households and end dependence on groundwater extraction, a primary cause of land subsidence which in turn contributes to flooding in the province.
Since 2020, SMC has also been using its own resources to clean up major river systems in and around Metro Manila that have long become shallow due to pollution and neglect.
In cooperation with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and local government units, it launched massive clean-up efforts for the Tullahan, Pasig, San Juan, and Meycauayan rivers.
All in all, SMC’s efforts have so far resulted in the removal of over 2.4 million tons of silt and solid waste from these rivers, enabling improved flood mitigation, and contributing efforts to rehabilitate these rivers. (Story courtesy of SMC, photo by Helio Dilolwa from Pexels)