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Microsoft: Water Withdrawal in 2021

  • In 2021, Microsoft withdrew 7.66 million cubic meters of water, an increase of around 0.51% over 2020
  • Of the total water withdrawn by Microsoft in 2021, 99.26% was sourced from third parties
  • Microsoft aims to be water positive by 2030

Water Withdrawal by Microsoft

Water is one of the critical environmental factors of ESG (Environment, Social, and Governance). Fresh and clean water is increasingly endangered despite being considered a plentiful renewable resource mainly due to population growth and economic activity leading to an increase in water demands and pollution.

According to United Nations, if current consumption and production patterns do not change, there will be a 40% shortfall in water supply by 2030. Companies are expected to face increased scrutiny such as limits on water withdrawal and tight regulations over their water use as global water resources face increased stress.

Big Tech needs a big amount of water to keep big servers in big data centers cool. It’s a fundamental element of the internet’s backend and core to each company’s business model. In October 2021, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft made respective pledges to replenish more water than they use by the next fifteen years.

As more businesses make water stewardship or positivity pledges, more stakeholders and consumers will start to pay attention to whether brands follow through on them. Boards, investors, and other business stakeholders will increase pressure on companies to make pledges and transparently report on progress.

Water Management by Microsoft

Microsoft Corp (Microsoft) develops, licenses, and supports software products, services, and devices. The company offers a comprehensive range of operating systems, cross-device productivity applications, server applications, software development tools, business solution applications, desktop and server management tools, video games, and training and certification services. It also designs, manufactures, and sells PCs, tablets, gaming and entertainment consoles, and other intelligent devices. The company provides a broad spectrum of services including cloud-based solutions, solution support, and consulting services.

In 2021, Microsoft withdrew 7.66 million cubic meters of water, an increase of around 0.51% over 2020.  Of the total water withdrawn by Microsoft in 2021, 7.60 million cubic meters (99.26%) was sourced from third parties.

The company discharged 3.18 million cubic meters of water in 2021 which decreased by 12.43% over 2020. The total water consumption by Microsoft was 4.48 million cubic meters in 2021. The company’s water replenishment amounted to 45% (2.02 million cubic meters) of its total water consumption across its operations.

Microsoft aims to be water positive by 2030. A company is water positive when it replenishes more water than it consumes each year. It also aims to provide more than 1.5 million people with access to clean water and sanitation services by 2030. Microsoft also has a 2024 goal to reduce water waste in its datacenter operations by 95%.



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