|Facebook has pledged to become a "water positive" company by 2030, committing the social media and tech giant to returning more water to the environment than is consumed by its global operations by the end of the decade.
Announcing the pledge lsdt week, the firm said it aimed to achieve the target via a combination of water restoration efforts alongside technologies to increase water efficiency at its facilities.
Facebook, which announced it had reached net zero emissions earlier this year, claims to have invested in a number of new ways to make its data centers more water and energy efficient over the past decade, while the firm's entire global footprint of offices and data centers have been supported by 100 per cent renewable energy since last year.
The company said it has already invested in water restoration projects that designed to replenish more than 850 million gallons of water per year. In regions experiencing high levels of water stress, these projects have so far restored about 595 million gallons of water in 2020 benefiting both communities and ecosystems, the firm said.
Writng in a blog post to accompany the news, Facebook's sustainability water lead, Sylvia Lee, explained that the company "has always strived to responsibly manage how we use water resources in the communities we operate in".
"We follow a water stewardship strategy that focuses on sourcing water responsibly, driving water efficiency across our facilities and operations, as well as investing in critical water restoration projects in the same watersheds where our facilities are located," she wrote. "Now, we're going even further and pledging to be water positive by 2030, meaning we will restore more water than we consume."
One area Facebook has already invested in is the Rio Grande Water Fund, based in New Mexico, which aims to restore the connection between the stressed Cedro Creek and its historic floodplain. The project is aimed at increasing climate resiliency in the region by mitigating drought and increasing biodiversity, restoring almost 20 million gallons of water per year, it said.
Existing projects have focused on the US, but further projects are planned for UK, Ireland, Singapore and India, according to Facebook, which said it would prioritise projects that align with the sixth UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG): to improve climate resilience, strengthen biodiversity, and address social and environmental justice.
The company has also invested in onsite recycled water systems at some of its global offices including allowing its data centers to be cooled with outside air. Taken together the firm says these changes have enabled its data centers to operate with 80 per cent more water efficiency on average compared to the industry standard.