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Virtual Water

Hong Kong’s average daily domestic fresh water consumption per capita is 130 litres. Around 40% of that is used for bathing, 10% for laundry and the remaining 50% for cooking and other purposes.

130 litres is just a visible part of our water consumption, merely constituting a small fraction of the total amount of water each of us actually uses everyday. There is greatly more fresh water invisibly embedded in commodities and particularly in food that we consume in daily life.

Water Consumption

What is Virtual Water?

Virtual Water refers to the amount of water embedded in the production and transportation of products.

Virtual Water of our Food

For example, to produce one kilogram of wheat, we need about 1,000 litres of water, i.e. the amount of this kilogram of wheat is 1,000 litres.

Below is a brief illustration on the amount of water needed for the production of 1 kilogram of beef:

  Resources embedded in the production of 1 kilogram of beef Water embedded in the production of 1 kilogram of beef
(1) Water for grains - about 6.5kg of grains (e.g. oats) Producing this volume of feed requires about 15,300 litres of water on average
(2) Water for roughages - about 36kg of roughages (e.g. pasture, dry hay)
(3) Water for drinking Drinking and servicing require about 155 litres of water on average
(4) Water for servicing
Total: The virtual-water cost for producing 1 kilogram of beef requires about 15,455 litres of water

The virtual-water cost for producing 1 kilogram of beef requires about 15,455 litres of water

The virtual-water cost for producing 1 kilogram of beef

Fresh Water used to produce one kilogram of food / one litre of drinks

Food Fresh Water Used
Chocolate  24,000 Litres / Kilogram
Coffee Bean 18,900 Litres / Kilogram
Beef 15,455 Litres / Kilogram
Chicken 3,900 Litres / Kilogram
Rice 3,400 Litres / Kilogram
Bread from wheat 1,300 Litres / Kilogram
Coffee 1,120 Litres / Kilogram
Milk 1,000 Litres / Kilogram
Banana 860 Litres / Kilogram
Apple 700 Litres / Kilogram
Lettuce 130 Litres / Kilogram

 

Chocolate 24,000 Litres; Coffee Bean 18,900 Litres; Beef 15,455 Litres; Chicken 3,900 Litres; Rice 3,400 Litres; Bread from wheat 1,300 Litres; Coffee 1,120 Litres; Milk 1,000 Litres; Banana 860 Litres; Apple 700 Litres; Lettuce 130 Litres
Fresh Water used to produce one kilogram of food / one litre of drinks

Source: Water Footprint Network

How Can We Help?

How Can We Help?

As responsible citizens of the world living in the global village, we should do what we can to ensure sustainable use of water resources. We can reduce water consumption by making smart choices in purchase and transportation and wisely consuming food/products that require less water for production without wastage.

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