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We rigorously research and conduct high quality analysis on issues of sustainable development. Our thinking is original and thought provoking.


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Charting a Course – Manufacturing

Manufacturing remained the second largest water user of the natural resource sectors, accounting for almost 13% of national intake in 2005; however, this intake has fallen by half since 1981. In the manufacturing sector water can be used many ways — as a raw material to make pulp or beverages, a solvent for removing undesired materials, or a transport agent to move products. The largest manufacturing water users are paper and primary metal — making up 48% and 29% respectively of manufacturing water use in 2005. Despite a drop in economic output from 1981 to 1986 (due primarily to a 39% drop in output in petroleum and coal products), production in manufacturing has risen 34% since 1981. This combination of rising production and rapidly falling water intake has resulted in a dramatic reduction in water-use intensity; since 1981, the water-use intensity has fallen by more than half.

Given the diversity of production in manufacturing, it is not surprising that the water-use intensity of some subsectors is high while for others it is low. Those with high water-use intensity include pulp and paper, primary metal, and chemical manufacturing; those with low water-use intensity include non-metallic mineral product, petroleum and coal, and food manufacturing. Food manufacturing was the only subsector that did not reduce its water intake from 1981 to 2005. The most dramatic reduction in water intake occurred in chemical manufacturing, which reduced its water use six-fold from a share of 34% of overall manufacturing water intake to 9%.

Figure 10: Water Intake, Economic Output, and Water-Use Intensity in Manufacturing

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Select a natural resource sector below to see its water use, including water intensity, water intake, and economic output.
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Pulp and Paper
Oil and Gas
Thermal Electricity