Collaborating to conserve freshwater at our water-stressed sites

Dow volunteers prepare for tree planting event

Global water scarcity and an increasing population have made recycling and reclaiming water essential for environmental health and economic development. Through our World Leading Operations Goal, Dow has identified six manufacturing locations as key water stressed sites and we've committed to reducing their freshwater intake intensity by 20%. One of the water-stressed sites leading the charge is our Terneuzen manufacturing site in The Netherlands.


Reducing our draw on the freshwater supply

"We operate on the basis of the three Rs: reduce through conservation, recycle, and reuse. Within our sites, we're looking to recycle water streams such that water volumes are not lost to rivers or lakes. We want to close the loop as much as possible."


Mary Draves


Chief Sustainability Officer, Vice President, Environment, Health & Safety

Our largest manufacturing site outside the U.S., Dow Terneuzen is located in a region surrounded by seawater but lacking freshwater. Today, 75% of Dow Terneuzen's annual 22 million cubic meters of freshwater use comes from sustainable sources like recycled and reused wastewater. But the remainder is pumped from the Biesbosch region more than 120 kilometers away. This freshwater source also supplies drinking water for 2.5 million households in the Western Netherlands and the consequences of climate change will only increase pressure on the area's potable water supply in the coming decades.


Innovating for impact

"We are making significant progress in quantifying the full value of water to our operation and embedding it in business decisions. In a world of increasing water scarcity, developing sustainable water management practices is critical to our business."


Mary Draves


Chief Sustainability Officer, Vice President, Environment, Health & Safety

Dow is working to completely replace freshwater from the Biesbosch region with sustainably sourced water by 2025. Our water strategy is based on doing as much on-site water conserving, reclaiming, and recycling as possible. We're also testing a constructed wetland to enable more efficient downstream water treatment requiring less chemicals and energy.


Collaboration has been essential to Our success in Terneuzen. To keep improving on the efficiency of our water sourcing, we're collaborating with even more partners on solutions that are better for the environment, for surrounding communities, and for our business.


Beginning in the early 1990s, we worked with public and private partners to reuse municipal wastewater for production purposes in Terneuzen - and became the world's first chemical company to do so on a large scale. In addition to saving precious freshwater, this water reuse conserves energy and lowers our carbon footprint.


To take the final steps of becoming independent from Biesbosch water, we are again teaming up with private and public partners to extend our reuse of municipal and industrial wastewater and reclaim collected rainwater. In 2019, we reached an agreement on a new 20-year build-own-operate contract with Evides Industriewater to build additional water treatment facilities using mild desalination technology for the I-Parc of Dow Terneuzen.


In addition, we're researching natural solutions for pre-treating brackish water. In a two year pilot project with Evides, the Water Board, and a local university, a wetland has been constructed. Data is being collected to determine whether residual organics from both the site and municipal wastewater treatment plants are converted or removed in the wetland and how that impacts the downstream treatment equipment. The data collected is being used to verify full-scale implementation by 2024 for the site's desalination train. This wetland project is a perfect example of how Dow is using nature's services across its sites to help with sustainable water management.


"Closing the water loop has a positive effect on the environment by reducing the industrial use of drinking and ground water," Mary Draves said. "Through innovative local collaborations, we are reducing the water intensity at our sites, which leaves more water for farmers, residents and other businesses." Our Sustainability Commitment Learn more about Dow's commitment to sustainable water management practices.

Our Sustainability Commitment


2019 Sustainability Report

2025 Sustainability Goals