Use and manage water

Water withdrawal in 2022

Group water footprint 2022

Progress against targets

Companies, communities, and ecosystems depend on access to reliable supplies of clean water. Population growth and economic development are putting increased pressure on the planet’s limited freshwater resources, with the UN forecasting a 40% shortfall by 2030. Today, climate change is primarily felt in changes to water, with extreme weather events and unpredictable rainfall impacting the availability and quality of freshwater.

We use water in the beverages we make to clean and cool our facilities and in providing services to our customers. Our goal is to be water neutral by 2050. This means that, at a minimum, our business activities should have no net negative impact on local water systems. Our Sustainable Water Policy outlines what we will do to use water responsibly and protect local water sources for the future.

Our approach is to:

Reduce our water use by improving efficiency and adopting new technologies

Recycle water and use alternative sources of water


Ensure our wastewater is safely discharged back to nature


Replenish natural water sources through partnerships

The Group and its operating company Swire Coca-Cola both received an A- rating in the 2022 CDP Water Security questionnaire.

In 2022, the Group withdrew 16.9 million cubic metres of fresh water, a 7% decrease from 2021. Almost all (99%) of the water we used came from municipal water sources. Swire Coca-Cola withdrew the rest from groundwater sources. Swire Coca-Cola accounts for the majority (86%) of the Group’s water use. It tracks the efficiency of its manufacturing process using the water use ratio (WUR) metric (litres of water used per litre of finished product produced) and aims to achieve a WUR of 1.45 by 2030. In 2022, its overall WUR was 1.75, down 3% from 1.81 in 2021. Testing and commissioning new production lines in the Chinese Mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and increased product variation impacted the water demand.

Swire Properties is the second largest water user, accounting for almost 10% of the Group’s water footprint in 2022. Water intensity at Swire Properties decreased by 9.2% and 25.9% in its Hong Kong and Chinese Mainland portfolios respectively, compared to a 2016 business-as-usual base year. At its hotels, water intensity increased by 15.1% compared to 2018/2019 levels. Overall, it used 7.8% less water in 2022 than in 2021.

Water use decreased by 3% at HAECO and decreased by 3% in the Trading & Industrial Division year on year.

To drive efficient water use in our operations, we have set a target to reduce water use by 30% by 2030, compared to a 2018 frozen efficiency baseline. To date we have achieved an 11% reduction, we surpassed our 10% target reduction for 2022. The baseline assumes our water use efficiency remains fixed at 2018 levels but allows us to factor in the projected increase in overall water demand as our business grows. There are trade-offs. Water-cooled chillers are more energy efficient than air-cooled chillers and so reduce carbon emissions. They are a central part of our decarbonisation strategy but will increase our water footprint.

Our target currently covers operating companies which together make up 99% of the Group’s total water footprint. It reflects our efforts to reduce water use in our operations. The water in the beverages produced by Swire Coca-Cola (production volume or water consumption) is excluded (see replenishment initiatives for how we address water consumed).

Chart data Tabular data

Water withdrawal by division
(thousand cbm)

Water withdrawal by division
(thousand cbm)

2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Property 1,522 2,011 1,759 1,778 1,639
Beverages 13,439 14,592 14,572 15,619 14,586
Aviation 477 449 417 398 385
Trading & Industrial 402 324 302 311 300
Marine Services 85 81 86 39 -
Chart data Tabular data

Progress towards 2030 water target*

*Following the review of our report boundary in 2022, the 2018 baseline has been recalculated to exclude Cathay Pacific Group and HAESL.

Progress towards 2030 water target*

2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Frozen Efficiency Scenario (w/o bottling volume) 7,933 8,691 8,379 9,112 9,621
2030 target 7,936 8,474 7,960 8,428 8,659
Swire Properties 1522 2011 1759 1778 1639
Swire Coca-Cola (w/o bottling volume) 5476 6369 6577 6999.5 6274
HAECO group (excluding HAESL) 477 449 417 398 385
Trading & Industrial 347 297 276 283 275

We monitor our water use to identify opportunities to adopt more efficient processes, repair leaks, install water flow regulators and use technologies that use less or no water.

Swire Coca-Cola has installed water sub-meters at all of its bottling plants in the Chinese Mainland and uses water-free alternatives such as dry lubricants and ionised air where possible.

Swire Coca-Cola reduced its water usage rate at its Minhang Plant by 34%.

Swire Coca-Cola – Significant improvement in water use ratio at Minhang Plant

Swire Coca-Cola’s facility at Minhang, Shanghai used to have the highest WUR (2.88) among all its plants in the Chinese Mainland. One of its biggest challenges has been controlling the level of microorganisms in the water treatment system due to unstable source water quality and the age of the water supply network. This meant increasing the frequency of cleaning the system. To reduce the freshwater demand at the plant, a cross-functional team was set up to identify water saving opportunities, including:

  1. Improving water disinfection processes
  2. Capturing rinsing water from the can production line for reuse
  3. Using recycled water instead of freshwater
  4. Redirecting downgraded water from beverage production to cooling towers

A total of RMB3 million (HK$3.4 million) was invested to implement these measures, leading to an annual reduction of 167.5 million litres of water use and RMB1.17 million (HK$1.31 million) of water costs. The WUR of the Minhang plant has been reduced to 1.91. In 2023, Swire Coca-Cola will look for further opportunities to reduce water use in the plant’s cooling tower and toilets.

Swire Properties uses water meters, water flow regulators, automatic taps, and automatic flush toilets and water-free urinals at various locations. Water sub-metering installation was completed in its Chinese Mainland portfolio in 2022. To further optimise water use practices, Swire Properties continued its partnership with Tsinghua University to study water use patterns and generate suggestions at different portfolios. Water leakage detection sensors have been installed in Cityplaza mall covering plant rooms and tenancy areas.

HAECO dry washes aircraft, using 90% less water and saving more than 860,000 litres of water per year. Water meters will be installed in the aircraft maintenance hangars in Hong Kong to provide insights for water reduction opportunities. Optimisation of lavatory water flow at Xiamen is expected to reduce 180 tonnes of water use per annum.

Taikoo Sugar uses a water heat exchange system in syrup production which can reduce water consumption by around 3.5 cubic metres per tank compared with an air-cooling system.

We use recycled water and rainwater to reduce our need to draw on freshwater supplies.

Swire Coca-Cola recycled 795,510 cubic metres of water in 2022, 14,066 cubic metres less than in 2021. Wastewater from manufacturing is reused for cleaning, irrigation and toilet flushing. Water used in cooling lines and systems is reused in condensing towers. In the Chinese Mainland, rejected reverse osmosis (RO) water and backwash water from activated carbon filter tanks contributed to the significant freshwater use reduction. In 2022, a new system was installed at Tempe plant in Arizona, USA to recover RO water which can reduce the plant’s WUR by 3-5%.

Swire Properties treats and reuses pantry wastewater and rainwater for toilet flushing and irrigation. Several Chinese Mainland properties including Taikoo Hui, INDIGO, Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu, and HKRI Taikoo Hui have installed systems to collect and treat wastewater and rainwater for toilet flushing and plant irrigation. In Hong Kong, rainwater and greywater recycling systems at One Taikoo Place and Two Taikoo Place, together with the RO system to recycle process water from the cooling tower, total freshwater demand can be reduced by over 48%.

INDIGO features contemporary architecture, innovative green features and quality public spaces.

Swire Properties – Rainwater recycling at INDIGO

INDIGO’s existing grey water system collects high-quality wastewater and rainwater to make grey water for toilet flushing and greenery irrigation. This cutting-edge technology can treat sewage water to reach grey water or even pure water standards for use in cooling towers.

In 2022, INDIGO built a sewage water recycling system, further improving its water savings and reducing wastewater discharged into the municipal pipework system. When operating, the system will have the capacity to save up to 85,000 cubic metres of water per year.

HAECO reuses rainwater for toilet flushing in Hong Kong. In 2023, with the support from the Swire Pacific Sustainable Development Fund, HAECO will pilot a new wastewater treatment system in the composite maintenance and repair plant in Jinjiang, Fujian, China to provide high quality water for reuse applications. An evaluation of the pilot programme will determine opportunities for adoption at a wider scale.

Taikoo Motors uses an automatic car wash system that recycles up to 40% of the water used in each wash.

Going beyond our direct operations, we seek to positively influence the behaviour of our suppliers, customers, and other water users in our local communities. Swire Coca-Cola uses a system to gather data on water consumption and production volume from its co-packers to improve their reporting efficiency. Co-packers’ performance will be further reviewed to uncover WUR improvement opportunities.

Swire Properties encourages tenants to adopt guidelines on the use of fresh and flushing water to support compliance the Hong Kong government’s voluntary “Quality Water Supply Scheme for Buildings”.

Pollution affects the quality of local water sources, so it is important to ensure that all water we discharge back to nature is safe and, at a minimum, meets local regulatory requirements.

All of Swire Coca-Cola’s bottling plants meet the wastewater quality standards of The Coca-Cola Company and the World Health Organisation. Performance is monitored. In the Chinese Mainland, an online monitoring system is used to track wastewater compliance.

Where necessary, Swire Coca-Cola bottling plants and companies in the HAECO group have onsite wastewater treatment facilities. HAECO Xiamen uses heavy metal monitoring equipment and detectors to check effluents before discharge.

Swire Coca-Cola commits to returning a litre of clean water to natural water systems for every litre of water used in its beverages. It collaborates with The Coca-Cola Company on community and watershed protection projects to replenish water in the Chinese Mainland and the US. In 2022, the Coca-Cola System replenished 293.3 billion litres of water, equivalent to 167% of the water used in its beverages. Water replenishment data is audited by a third party.

Swire Coca-Cola made three new donations to replenishment programmes in 2022: one in Utah, expected to replenish about 398 million litres of water per year, and two in Arizona, expected to save 2 million litres of water per year.

Water availability is highly location dependent. Each watershed may be exposed to different risks depending on its climatic conditions and changing demand of all water users drawing from it. Understanding location specific water risks can inform a more targeted and strategic approach to water management, allowing focus on sites with the highest risks.

We use the World Resources Institute’s (WRI) Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas to assess the baseline water stress across our global operating locations. About 22% of the freshwater we use is drawn from sources that are classified as high or extremely high stress – indicating that demand from local water users is at risk of exceeding supply. When considering a 2030 business as usual scenario, 40% of our water demand is from highly stressed basins. Regions with high water stress in 2030 include locations in the Chinese Mainland (Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu) and the US (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho and Utah). Hong Kong will also experience increasing water stress.

Swire Coca-Cola evaluates site-specific water risks, including water quality and availability, for each bottling plant using The Coca-Cola Company’s Source Vulnerability Assessments (SVAs). Following SVAs, plants prepare water management plans (WMPs), which are updated every five years or as required by The Coca-Cola Company. Swire Coca-Cola aims to have SVAs and WMPs externally verified by 2025. By the end of 2022, over 70% of the bottling plants had SVAs and WMPs prepared or reviewed by external water experts.

Swire Properties has done water risk assessments in Hong Kong, the Chinese Mainland and Miami, USA. Availability of water, operational risks associated with water use, the efficiency of its buildings and the risk of higher water tariffs were assessed.

The Group’s water working group will continue to improve the collection and monitoring of our water data, develop a roadmap for achieving our 2050 water neutrality goal, and explore partnership opportunities for water replenishment projects in locations where we operate.