Sustainability. We mean it.
Case study


How data can sanitise food and save water

16 September 2021 |
Impact investing focuses on companies exclusively seeking positive, measurable, real-world outcomes through commercially successful products and services. This combination of purpose and profit can generate superior investment returns and contribute to the Sustainable Wealth Creation we aim to achieve.

For our Impact Opportunities capability, food security is one of nine impact themes that inform stock selection. In our view, there is a clear opportunity for investors to contribute to the development of a sustainable food system for current and future generations. As farming lands are worked intensively, diminishing the fertility of soil and agricultural yields, up to 1.3bn tonnes of food are wasted each year1 . This highlights the need for long-term solutions for efficiently providing food and water for a growing population without degrading our natural resources. Given the increasing complexity of supply chains, food sanitation and the prevention of foodborne illnesses are essential.

Ecolab, which is held by Impact Opportunities, is a company delivering real impact in this area. It is a global leader in water and sanitation solutions across food-service, food-processing, hospitality, healthcare, industrial, and oil-and-gas markets. Through its cleaning and sanitation products and analytics capabilities, the US firm helps to improve food cleanliness and sanitation, eliminate foodborne pathogens, and reduce both waste and water use.

An image showing how Company helped its customers in 2019

Clean eating

Ecolab’s food-safety business helps customers improve quality, reduce waste and prevent foodborne illnesses. Through real-time data monitoring, the firm gains insights to create solutions for customers that increase the standard of products and the speed of operations. For example, it has created automated food-safety checklists for quick-service restaurants and improved data delivery for food-safety audits, health-department inspections, cleaning and sanitation.2

The group’s healthcare division also aims to reduce the risk of healthcare-associated infections. Its digital dashboards provide analyses of hygiene practices and predictive analytics to forecast and reduce infections transmitted in healthcare facilities.3 According to the company, these preventable illnesses kill more people every year than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. As a result, Ecolab plays an integral role in ensuring that potentially lethal contaminants do not spread along the food chain.

Waste not, water wisely

Ecolab also helps its customers reduce their water use, carbon footprint and waste. Global freshwater withdrawals have tripled over the past 50 years, meaning that water scarcity and sanitation are pressing challenges. The firm’s water-saving solutions helped its customers conserve 206bn gallons of water in 2019.

Its warewashing programme, which helps institutional customers clean the equipment used in preparing or serving food, is a case in point. Ecolab has helped Rotana, a hotel provider, implement a warewashing programme using solid detergents and removing the need for plastic packaging. This has reduced Rotana’s packaging waste by 80%, and the solid detergent is safer for hotel staff to handle than liquid detergents.4

An image showing how much water use and energy consumption hotel provider Rotana was able to reduce by partnering with Ecolab

Impact leaders

By confronting long-term sustainability challenges with commercially successful solutions, today’s impactful companies are the potential leaders of tomorrow. Ecolab, through its innovative food-sanitation systems and ability to help customers reduce waste and water use, is delivering positive, sustainable impact that should also reinforce the strength and profitability of its business.


This information does not constitute a solicitation or offer to any person to buy or sell any related securities or financial instruments.

1 Source: UN, as at October 2018.
2 ‘Ecolab Annual Report 2019’, p. 4.
3 Ibid.
4 Annual report, p. 10

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