Water is a fundamental component in our production. We use water as a coolant, solvent and cleaning agent, as well as to make our products. We are committed to responsible water use in our production sites’ water catchment areas as well as along the entire value chain. To this end, we have set ourselves global goals.

The graphic depicts the different stations along the value chain. The topics in this chapter address the station shown in dark green. (here: Production, Customers) (graphic)


  • BASF products contribute to sustainable water management

We aim to use water as sparingly as possible and further reduce emissions to water. To do so, we have set out a Group directive with globally applicable standards. We are exploring measures for implementing sustainable water management, especially at production sites in water stress areas. One of our aims here is to identify savings potential in order to use as little water as possible, particularly in water stress areas.

We offer our customers solutions that help purify water, use it more efficiently and reduce pollution. Our water solution products such as inge® ultrafiltration technology and the Sokalan® product line make a major contribution to sustainability. In Accra, Ghana, these products were used in the construction of a desalination plant that can generate up to 60,000 cubic meters of drinking water per day – enough to supply half a million people. A future desalination plant in Jamnagar, India, will feature inge®’s T-Rack® 3.0 ultrafiltration modules. This will supply one of the largest refinery complexes in the country with up to 170,000 cubic meters of purified process water per day.

In order to ensure transparency in our reporting on water, we once again took part in CDP reporting in 2014. We consider all aspects of the topic of water, including societal implications. For example, we signed the WBCSD’s Pledge for Access to Safe Water, Sanitation and Hygiene at the Workplace at the end of 2013.

Global goals

  • Reduction of emissions to water
  • High standards, especially for water stress areas

We have set ourselves the goal of reducing emissions to water of organic substances and nitrogen by 80% by 2020 compared with baseline 2002; we want to reduce emissions of heavy metals by 60%.

By 2020, we aim to reduce the withdrawal of drinking water from supply sources for production by half compared with baseline 2010. In 2014, we were able to reduce this amount by 26.3% (2013: 25.3%).

In 2014, we achieved 29.7% of our goal to establish sustainable water management at all sites in water stress areas by 2020. We pursue this by applying the European Water Stewardship (EWS) standard. After introducing the standard at our European sites in 2013, we began its implementation in North America and China in 2014. We have also introduced the EWS standard at the Ludwigshafen site, even though it is not located in a water stress area. An external audit awarded us gold-level certification in 2014 for our water management and extensive application of the EWS standard in Ludwigshafen and at the production site in Tarragona, Spain. In total, around 22% of our production sites were located in water stress areas in 2014. Around 6.5% of total water used by BASF was abstracted from these areas, of which 85.2% was seawater.

Reduction of emissions to water in BASF operations excluding Oil & Gas1 (in %)

Reduction of emissions to water in BASF operations excluding Oil & Gas (bar chart)

1 The figures for the 2011 business year and earlier were not adjusted to the new accounting and reporting standards IFRS 10 and 11. For more information on our data collection methods, see page 4.

Water in the BASF Group in 2014 (million cubic meters per year)

Water in the BASF Group in 2014 (pie chart)

1 Total from production processes, graywater, rinsing and purification in production
2 The difference between the volume of water supplied and discharged is mainly attributable to evaporation losses during closed-circuit cooling.

2020 Goal


Reduce the use of drinking water in production processes
Baseline 2010
BASF operations excluding Oil & Gas

2020 Goal


Sustainable water management in water stress areas
Baseline 2010
BASF operations excluding Oil & Gas

Fewer emissions

We want to reduce emissions to water of organic substances and nitrogen by 80% and of heavy metals by 60% compared with baseline 2002. BASF operations excluding Oil & Gas

Further reduction of emissions

  • Goal achieved to reduce emissions to water

Around 194 million cubic meters of wastewater were discharged from BASF production sites in 2014 (2013: 192 million cubic meters). At 3,200 metric tons (2013: 2,900 metric tons), emissions of nitrogen to water were reduced by 85.4% compared with 2002. Around 18,700 metric tons of organic substances were emitted in wastewater (2013: 19,700 metric tons), representing a reduction of 79.5% since 2002. Our wastewater contained 21.5 metric tons of heavy metals (2013: 21.9 metric tons), representing a worldwide reduction of 64.8% compared with 2002. Phosphorus emissions amounted to 341 metric tons (2013: 339 metric tons). This means we have achieved our goal of reducing emissions to water.

Our wastewater is treated through different methods depending on the type and degree of contamination – including biological processes, oxidation, membrane technologies, precipitation or adsorption.

To avoid unanticipated emissions, we will review our water protection concepts at all production sites by the end of 2015. At our sites in Ludwigshafen, Germany, and Geismar, Louisiana, we expanded online wastewater monitoring in order to detect unanticipated emissions at an even earlier stage. These new monitoring systems allow us to track and analyze relevant pollutants even more quickly and reliably, and to take measures if necessary. We were also able to further optimize the performance of the wastewater treatment facilities at our Kuantan site in Malaysia.

Water use

  • Using water responsibly

We recirculate water as much as it is feasible in order to withdraw less from supply sources. Our larger sites have recooling plants that allow water to be reused several times and that reduce the temperature of used cooling water before it is discharged back into a body of water. To protect the Rhine River, we have committed to the step-by-step reduction of heat input from the Ludwigshafen site when set temperature limits are exceeded, for example as a result of long heat waves or low river levels.

The supply, treatment, transportation and recooling of water is associated with a high energy demand. We employ various means in our efforts to keep this as low as possible.