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The water footprint of pizza? June 26, 2009

Posted by David in Water Footprint.
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How much water does it take to produce one pizza?  The answer amazed me- according to a recent report published by the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education in the Netherlands, it takes 1200 liters* (~317 gallons) of water to produce one pizza margherita.  Gulp!

What exactly does this mean?  What is a water footprint?

The water footprint is an indicator of water use that includes both direct and indirect water use of a consumer or producer. The water footprint of an individual, community or business is defined as the total volume of freshwater that is used to produce the goods and services consumed by the individual or community or produced by the business. [From the Water Footprint Network website]

People use lots of water for drinking, cooking and washing, but even more for producing things such as food, paper, cotton clothes, etc. The water footprint is an indicator of water use that looks at both direct and indirect water use of a consumer or producer. The water footprint of an individual, community or business is defined as the total volume of freshwater that is used to produce the goods and services consumed by the individual or community or produced by the business.

The relation between consumption and water use

“The interest in the water footprint is rooted in the recognition that human impacts on freshwater systems can ultimately be linked to human consumption, and that issues like water shortages and pollution can be better understood and addressed by considering production and supply chains as a whole,” says Professor Arjen Y. Hoekstra, creator of the water footprint concept and scientific director of the Water Footprint Network.

*Please note that the figure of 1200 liters for one pizza applies specifically to a pizza in Italy, with grain, tomatoes and cheese produced in Italy.  Your local pizza will have its own footprint and may be higher or lower depending on ingredients and where they are produced among other factors.

The full report, THE WATER NEEDED TO HAVE ITALIANS EAT PASTA AND PIZZA can be found at http://www.waterfootprint.org/Reports/Report36-WaterFootprint-Pasta-Pizza.pdf

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