DSM Integrated Annual Report 2021

Water stewardship

Fresh water is a finite natural resource that needs to be used and managed in a responsible and sustainable way. Water risks are increasing due to climate change and increased urbanization, impacting food production, nature and biodiversity. Our goal is to ensure the sustainable use of water in balance with the local context and to have safe, available water for all.















Water Use (million m3)1







Water withdrawal in water-stressed areas2







Water withdrawal for non-OTC







Consumptive Use














Sustainable water management







Water withdrawal efficiency improvement


at least maintain





Water withdrawal efficiency improvement — water-stress sites versus 2020


10% by 2030












Emissions to water







COD (kt)








All data presented in Planet are subject to the Non-financial reporting policy.


Water-stress is defined as the ratio of total water withdrawals to available renewable surface and groundwater supplies. We perform water risk screening using WRI Aqueduct Tool and WWF Water Risk Filter to identify water stress sites, which are sites located in an area with >40% water stress currently or in 2030.


Water withdrawal in water-stressed areas increased due to the inclusion of acquisitions. These acquired sites are not included in the water efficiency indicators yet as there is no prior reference year available.


Water withdrawal efficiency improvement is based on an updated set of indicators and cannot be compared to previous years.

Commitments, policy and governance

DSM is a signatory of the CEO Water Mandate, a UN Global Compact initiative to advance water stewardship and drive progress on SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation). We commit to measuring, monitoring and reporting relevant performance indicators for water. We disclose our progress via the CDP Water Security questionnaire. In 2021, our CDP Water Security rating improved to an A, in recognition of our ongoing efforts in sustainable water management.

CDP disclosure insight action (logo)

Water security is an integral part of our risk mitigation and environmental impact reduction strategies. Our water policy is part of the SHE policy and specifies the goal, governance and management standards on water management.

Impacts and dependencies

Water is not a primary ingredient in our products. Our primary water use is in utility systems, as a process medium and for cleaning purposes. Water is also used in our upstream supply chain, for agriculture-related as well as industrial raw materials.

A large proportion of our total water withdrawal (approximately 75%) is used for once-through cooling (OTC) purposes in low water-stress areas. The risk exposure and environmental impact of OTC are limited. The other 25% of our water withdrawal is for non-OTC purposes — this is the focus of our key performance indicators and targets on water. According to our water risk screening in 2021, 35% of our non-OTC withdrawal is from a current water-stressed area, or a water-stressed area in 2030.

"On World Water Day 2021, we published our updated water target and explained why water has always been an important topic for DSM. We are a signatory to the UN Global Compact CEO Water Mandate and this Report represents our progress on water stewardship."

Dimitri de Vreeze, Co-CEO, Royal DSM

Water withdrawal

in million tons

Water withdrawal and water stress (pie chart)

Risk management

All sites with water withdrawal materiality and sites in water-stressed areas are required to conduct a site-level water risk assessment (WRA). The frequency of the assessment is specified in DSM’s water management standard. In 2021, we reached a WRA coverage of 97%, evaluating four sites newly identified to be in a water-stressed area based on the 2020 water risk screening. For one other site, the WRA was postponed to 2022, as part of the site’s overall SHE improvement plan.

Water quality remains the most important water-related risk, often related to meeting business growth or increasingly stringent regulatory requirements. For identified high risks, the site defines short-term measures to address the immediate issue(s) and/or long-term measures including technical projects to reduce pollutant level at source or upgrades of the wastewater treatment facility. For example, we are executing a capacity expansion project for the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) in Village-Neuf (France), including upgrades to add additional treatment steps.

In our value chain, we monitor the materiality of water for our suppliers and customers through value chain engagement programs, such as Together for Sustainability (TfS).

Water-related targets

We strive to continuously improve water withdrawal efficiency for our production facilities. In early 2021, we announced a context-based water reduction target to improve water withdrawal efficiency in water-stressed areas by 10% by 2030 versus 2020. We started a water reduction program covering 22 sites in an existing or future water-stressed area. Several large sites in water-stressed areas have improved their site-level water balance in 2021, through better leakage detection and prevention.

Some sites have also executed water reduction projects, often in close collaboration with energy reduction projects. For example, in our Xinghuo site (Shanghai province, China), low efficiency (steam-driven) chillers were replaced by new installations, saving 33,000 m3 of water per year. At our site in Jingjiang (Jiangsu province, China), we installed a new circulating water system for vacuum pumps, saving 100,000 m3 water per year. Our site in Belvidere (New Jersey, USA) installed a new cooling tower together with the replacement of more than 25-year-old chillers. The improved system contributes to a water use reduction of approximately 4,000 m3 per year. These projects resulted in a 7.8% water withdrawal efficiency improvement in water stressed areas in 2021 (versus 2020).

For effluent management, our sites set site-specific pollution reduction targets, based on business context and current and future regulatory requirements.

The new name for the Carbon Disclosure Project
Sustainable Development Goal
Safety, Health and Environment (SHE)
DSM’s policy is to maintain business activities and produce products that do not adversely affect safety or health, and that fit with the concept of sustainable development. The company does this by setting the following objectives: to provide an injury-free and incident-free workplace; to prevent all work-related disabilities or health problems; to control and minimize the risks associated with DSM’s products for their whole life cycle and to choose production processes and products such that the use of raw materials and energy is minimized; to evaluate and improve DSM’s practices, processes and products continuously in order to make them safe and acceptable to its employees, the customers, the public and the environment.
United Nations
Water use and water consumption
Water use includes water used for ‘once-through cooling’ that is returned to the original water source after use. Water consumption is the portion of water used that is not returned to the original water source after being withdrawn.