The amount of water used to produce food and goods imported by developed countries is worsening water shortages in the developing world, a report says. The report, focusing on the UK, says two-thirds of the water used to make UK imports is used outside its borders. Its written by ‘Engineering the Future’ an alliance of professional engineering bodies who argue this is unsustainable, given population growth and climate change.
The problem of embedded water is a neglected aspect of food miles and importation. Key to the report is the concept of “embedded water” – the water used to grow food and make things. A cup of coffee embeds about 140 litres (246 pints) of water, a cotton T-shirt about 2,000 litres, and a kilogram of steak 15,000 litres.
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