Annual Report 2023

Water Resources

Strategy and Governance

Covestro takes a holistic view of water as a resource: We take not only our water usage and the related problems of water scarcity and quality into consideration, but also the wastewater we generate and growing concern about the pollution of this resource and the associated potential consequences for people and the environment. The availability and accessibility of clean water are also vital for our production sites.

As a general rule, we strive to minimize the use of water and to use it several times and recycle it wherever possible . Covestro uses water primarily for cooling purposes and in production. Our wastewater is subject to strict monitoring and analysis according to the applicable local legal regulations before it is discharged into disposal channels.

Our production sites are faced with a large variety of different situations, which we address using a risk-based water program. This allows us to focus on those sites that are currently, or will in future be, exposed to a risk and to identify context-specific solutions. This is intended to reinforce the effectiveness of the Water Program and strengthen resilience for future challenges at our sites.

Responsibility for the Water Program has been assigned to the corporate Group Health, Safety, and Environment (HSE) function, which reports to the Chief Technology Officer. The relevant sites are responsible for implementing locally defined goals and measures.

Policies and Actions

The basis for our activities in this area is our Corporate Commitment on Water. All additional parameters are defined in the Covestro Water Program.

Covestro Water Program

The availability and accessibility of clean water is vital for our production sites. As part of our Corporate Commitment on Water, we initiated and have continually refined a global risk assessment covering water availability, quality, and accessibility at all of our production sites.

The method for assessing areas with water stress was revised in the year under review. As recommended by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), areas with water stress were determined using the Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas of the World Resources Institute (WRI), based in Washington, D.C., (United States). In addition to physical risks such as water stress, our water risk assessment also includes potential regulatory risks at our production sites. Regulatory risks comprise, for example, access to drinking water or drinking water directives and other legal requirements. We also use other recognized tools to this end, such as the Water Risk Filter of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). Sites in current areas with water stress account for 7% of our total water usage.

In order to establish a suitable format to enhance understanding of the local and future water situation, a water dashboard, which also covers physical water risks, was created in the reporting year and shared with our production sites. By analyzing the local water management at the sites, risks can be spotted at an early stage and potential for improvement can be identified. To drive water management and water protection, we have also set up a platform for regularly exchanging information and sharing best practice.

We started rolling out a new, context-based water program (Covestro Water Program) in the reporting year. The Program addresses water risks strategically and systematically at sites identified as acute or potentially at risk, based on WRI data. It helps ensure a better understanding of the site’s impact on the local watershed by highlighting broader challenges such as water scarcity, water pollution, and flooding that could potentially negatively impact the local population, neighboring companies, and the ecosystem. Based on the identified risks and opportunities, the initiative is developing medium- to long-term context-specific action plans for each site. The necessary resources will be made available at both Group and site level so as to ensure effective implementation. The Program is expected to be implemented fully by 2030.


We record our water figures to include all consolidated companies. Since these metrics are calculated only at the end of the year, they include the group of companies consolidated as it stands at year-end. In this process, we incorporate data from all environmentally relevant Covestro sites, i.e., all production sites and relevant administrative sites. In order to comply with publication deadlines, the sites estimate the environmental data for the final weeks of the current fiscal year on the basis of established estimation methodologies that ensure accurate reporting of data as close as possible to the actual figures for the year. If, however, in the course of the following year, we become aware of material deviations based on internally defined thresholds, the figures in question are corrected retroactively. This was not required in fiscal 2023 for the preceding fiscal year 2022.

At 221 million cubic meters, overall water usage in the Group is below the previous year’s figure. One reason for the decline is a reduction in the amount of water used in the plants along the Lower Rhine due to lower production utilization. The majority of the total volume of water used by Covestro (79%) is once-through cooling water. This water is only heated and does not come into contact with products. It can be returned to the water cycle without further treatment in line with the relevant official permits. The total volume of once-through cooling water was 180 million cubic meters in the reporting year.

The volume of process wastewater saw a year-over-year decrease of 15%. The proportion of process wastewater purified or otherwise treated (e.g., incinerated) at a wastewater treatment plant operated by Covestro or a third party amounted to 75% worldwide. Following an analysis, another 25% was categorized as environmentally safe and returned to the water cycle. Evaporation losses went down 17% in the reporting year to 12 million cubic meters.

Use of water in the year 2023 (million cubic meters)

Use of water in the year of 2023 (million cubic meters) (graphic)

1 Areas with water stress taking into account overall physical risks such as water shortages, and water scarcity.

2 E.g., rainwater used.

3 Differences between the volumes of water drawn and discharged can be explained in part through unquantified evaporation, leaks, water used as a raw material in products, condensate from the use of steam as a source of energy, and unused rainwater.

4 Also includes water for irrigation purposes.

5 Total from production processes, sanitary wastewater, and rinsing and purification in production.

Total water consumption and water intensity











Total water consumption (in million m3)1





Water intensity (in million m3/€ million)2






The difference between total water use and total water discharged (including evaporation losses, among other factors).


Ratio of total water consumption to sales.


Used water can be reused in various ways. In addition to using water several times in the same process, e.g., in cooling water cycles, it can also be reused in other areas, e.g., for cleaning or to water lawns and plants, thus saving quantities of fresh water every year. The volume of reused water was 289 million cubic meters in the reporting year.

GRI/Global Reporting Initiative
Guidelines on the preparation of sustainability reports by companies, governments, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).

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