What is water poverty?

Water poverty means lack of access to adequate water and sanitation services to meet basic needs. 

People living in water poverty rarely have access to water in their homes, and often rely on unsafe water sources for drinking and washing. These might include untreated or unimproved water from rivers, creeks or canals. The poorest people also often pay a much larger share of their income for water than richer people.  

Water poverty also includes more than 2 billion people who do not have access to a toilet. This poses enormous health risks, especially in areas of rapid population growth, so improved sanitation must be addressed together with water services. The provision of safe sanitation is particularly important in keeping girls in school and addressing gender inequality. 

How does Water Unite support recycling and reduction of plastic waste?

Reducing our impact on the environment through the management of plastic waste is of paramount importance to us. Water Unite's model has the contributes to the reduction of plastic waste because micro-donations can be collected via existing or future recycling or deposit schemes. This is why we are currently working on creating better recycling schemes and facilities for turning plastic into an income stream for the communities in developing countries, where the issue is more pressing. In our model of a circular economy, we expect to see good quality plastic returned back to the food sector and poor quality material recycled and reused industrially.

What proportion of products sales go to Water Unite?

Water Unite's revenue projections are based on an estimated micro-donation of around US 1 cent per litre of bottled water (or alternative product) sold. However the precise level of micro-donation may vary according to local market conditions, types of products sold and collection mechanisms.

How much will Water Unite raise?

In 2022, the global market for packaged water is over 500 billion litres and worth over US$ 200 billion. Detailed technical and financial analysis of Water Unite's model concludes it is feasible to raise US$ 100-200 million per year in a 'pioneer' phase by working with a select group of companies that are already indicating their willingness to participate. Over 10-15 years, Water Unite aims to raise even greater sums for investment and to become an integral part of the sector. Our ambition is to become nothing less than an independent and widely recognised indicator of industry best practice, an effective means of collaboration and, most importantly, to make a substantial contribution to the delivery of sustainable water and sanitation services where they are needed most alongside plastic recovery and management schemes.

Is this a tax on products?

No. Joining Water Unite is voluntary for brands, retailers and other businesses who choose to make a micro-donation from profits on sales. This should not affect the price paid by consumers.  

Who can participate?

Individual consumers are critical partners in Water Unite. By choosing to purchase bottled water from retailers displaying, or selling brands, with the Water Unite logo, consumers can help to raise millions of dollars for clean water, sanitation and recycling schemes. By signing up to Water Unite, individuals can also demonstrate their support to bottlers and retailers, encouraging them to join.

Businesses across the sector are welcome to be part of Water Unite, particularly drinks manufacturers and bottlers, supermarkets and grocery retailers. Major food and drink suppliers such as hotel and restaurant chains, airlines and entertainment venues can also take part by choosing to stock products with the Water Unite label.

Where does Water Unite work?

It is anticipated that the majority of revenues raised by Water Unite, at least in the early years, will be from higher-income countries in Europe, North America and the Asia-Pacific, with the funds deployed to support catalytic investments and other finance needs in developing countries. However, Water Unite also has the potential to mobilise domestic income streams in low and middle-income countries, which would retain revenue from bottled water sales for water, sanitation and recycling investments and activities.

Is Water Unite a charity?

Water Unite will become a registered charity in the countries that it operates.

Who funds Water Unite's administration?

The set-up and administration costs for Water Unite are generously supported by The Rockefeller Foundation, The Stone Family Foundation and The Co-operative UK. We are currently seeking further funding for these costs for the coming 18 months.

A portion of the micro-donations are allocated to cover running costs each year. The research and analysis phase that preceded the creation of Water Unite was funded by The Rockefeller Foundation, The One Foundation and The Osprey Foundation

Can I donate to Water Unite?

If you would like to discuss a direct donation, please contact us.